The Cost of NOT Taking Care of Your Teeth

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true when it comes to your dental health. Keep reading to learn how simple preventive care (like brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly) is good for both your health and your wallet.

Investing in preventive care is the best thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy and avoid extensive, expensive treatments.

What exactly is preventive dental care?

To understand how preventive care can save you money, you first have to understand what preventive care is.

Preventive dental care is the practice of paying special attention to your teeth with the goal of keeping them healthy. Instead of reacting to problems, you’re taking steps to avoid issues in the first place.

A care plan focused on preventive dentistry includes the following.

Brushing your teeth twice a day

The most important preventive habit you can adopt is to brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. I recommend brushing after breakfast and after dinner. Your dentist can recommend you to the best type of toothbrush for your individual needs. However, in general, make sure you’re using a soft toothbrush and replacing it 3-4 times throughout the year.

Flossing daily

Flossing allows you to reach tight spaces in your mouth and clear out bits of food that are stuck between your teeth. This is important because as food sits between your gums and teeth, bacteria begins to form. This can lead to gum disease, cavities, and other issues. There are several types of flossers available — from handheld to loose string. During your next dentist visit, ask for a flossing demonstration to make sure you have the right technique.

Visiting your dentist every 6 months

Speaking of dentist visits, another very important preventive care habit is regular exams and cleanings. Most people should have a dental exam and cleaning every 6 months. If you’re at high risk of dental problems, you may benefit from more frequent visits.

These routine appointments allow your dentist to identify problems before they develop into dangerous issues and take care of them right away. It’s also a great opportunity for you to ask your dentist questions or bring up any concerns.

Remember: dental health happens when you work together with your dentist!

Eating a balanced diet

Did you know the food and drinks you consume affect the overall health of your mouth? Certain foods fuel enamel erosion and lead to decay and gum disease, including:
  • Sugar-filled drinks and foods
  • Sticky candy
  • White bread
  • Citrus
Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and defend your teeth and gums from serious issues. If you do indulge in these types of foods, rinse and brush your teeth afterwards.

Watching for changes

The final element of a dental care plan focused on prevention is to never ignore a problem. You need to work closely with your dentist to understand the signs of common problems like gum disease and cavities. If you do notice a problem, feel pain, or notice any changes in your dental health, it’s important to seek care from your dentist immediately. Don’t wait until that little pain in your mouth grows into to a big problem.

So how exactly does preventive care save you money?

It’s simple, really. Smaller issues are easier and more cost-effective to correct. Bigger dental problems require more difficult (and thus more costly) procedures and techniques.

The earlier you identify potential dental concerns, the more options you have to deal with them, or avoid issues all together.

You also need to consider the cost of your overall health and happiness. Thanks to advances in high-tech dentistry, extensive dental problems can often be corrected. However, there are some issues that will affect your long-term health and cause permanent damage. Some of the consequences of not taking a preventive approach to your dental care include:
  • Tooth decay/cavities
  • Root canals
  • Extractions
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth staining

Let’s crunch some numbers

If you’re covered by dental insurance, most providers cover a large portion if not the full cost of your dental exam and cleaning appointments. Even if you don’t have insurance, the cost of this type of preventive appointments is very affordable. While insurance is typically very helpful for preventive treatments, larger dental work is not always included. Meaning, if you’re facing gum disease, you’ll likely need to pay for the majority of the treatment out of pocket. Let’s take a closer look. Say you’re covered by dental insurance and have an out-of-pocket premium of $360. When you visit your dentist twice a year for your routine visits, you pay a $20 copay. During these visits, your dentist helps prevent problems like cavities and gum disease through precise cleanings and dental education. At the end of the year, you’ll have paid $400 for dental care (just over $1/day) and will have a beautiful, healthy smile to show for it. On the other hand, pretend you haven’t been to the dentist in 24 months when a tooth that’s been sensitive for a while starts to really cause you pain. You schedule an appointment and your dentist discovers you need a root canal. The national cost average for a root canal is between between $762 to over $1,100, depending on the tooth. You may have saved $80 on your dental exams and treatments over the last 2 years, but now you’re facing upwards of $700 in dental care.

It’s never too late to start caring for your teeth

There’s one last very important point I want to make today: Preventive care is for everyone. Even if it’s been years since you last visited the dentist or are currently facing pain and large dental problems, you can still take a preventive approach to dental health. In fact, these preventive habits will be highly beneficial in turning your health around. There’s no better time than the present to take control of your dental health, and my team and I are here to help. At Radiance Dental, we’re known for our judgement-free and comforting environment. Whether you’re ready for your next cleaning or need extensive dental care, our team will ensure you get the best, highest-quality care to fit your budget Give us a call at (360) 844-2141 to schedule an appointment or contact us online.

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