“I’m your dentist, and I love the career that I picked. I’m your dentist and I (enjoy) the pain I inflict.”
– “Dentist” from Little Shop of Horrors
As unfortunate as this (worldwide dentist-boycotted) song is, the lyrics accurately convey the emotion that many people feel toward their friendly neighborhood smile-smiths.
Twice a year is the ideal number to swing in and say “hi.” A recent Gallup poll, however, shows that one-third of Americans haven’t visited the dentist once in the past year. Though the poll doesn’t provide insight into their reasoning, the excuses always make their way back to us.
Here are some of the most popular ones:
1. It’s going to hurt
This excuse may be reasonable, but it’s also a bad one…very bad. Here’s why:
The truth is that the mouth is a hypersensitive part of the body. It’s full of thousands of nerve endings and any contact with one of those nerve endings can result in a varying degrees of pain.
As a dentist, it is impossible to promise a pain-free experience. What is safe to pledge, however, is that the amount of pain you feel in the office is going to be much less than the amount you will experience if a dental problem continues untreated.
Take the root canal for example. A root canal is a necessary procedure to save an abscessed tooth and has become a trope for unpleasant and painful experiences. Abscesses can be prevented early on with basic preventative dental care and managing cavities should they occur.
2. I’m going to get yelled at
Many people think about their dentists like their great aunt Susan. Walk through the door and, right away it’s “It’s been two years. Why haven’t you come to visit me?”
Very few people will choose to go somewhere knowing they are going to get yelled at (especially if they have to pay for it), so when people have not been brushing or flossing like they feel they should be, a dental appointment can be daunting.
Seemingly left with the choice between lying about their home dental habits or being slapped with a ruler like a puritan schoolchild, most people will opt to pass on the embarrassment altogether. Who can blame them?
Going to see a dentist, however, should never be an intimidating experience. Think of us like your auto mechanic. You take your car in and they tell you to get the oil changed again in 3 months. It’s not a scolding, it’s just advice on how to keep everything working properly.
Additionally, a good dentist will never make you feel bad for any lapse in time since your last visit, so go ahead and give us a call. Stop by aunt Susan’s house on the way in (just take it easy on her sugary chocolate-chip cookies).
There are thousands of great dentists out there. If you are currently seeing one who makes you feel belittled or bullied when they advise you on your dental care, it is time to find a new one.
3. It’s a waste of time
If you’re anything like me, chances are you don’t have a lot of free time. Who has time to sit in a waiting room, reading back issues of People or Field and Stream magazine? I mean it’s the 21st century for crying out loud, everybody has stuff that needs to be done.
In the ever-expanding list of to-dos, going to the dentist isn’t likely to take home a gold or silver medal.
While most people don’t equate a visit to the dentist with, say a visit to their primary care physician, the importance of a regular dental visit to overall health cannot be understated.
The mouth, after all, is full of important blood vessels. If an infection takes hold of the mouth, it can lead to series medical problems for the entire body. There is a direct relationship between periodontitis and diabetes, for instance. Heart disease, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis are among the other fun health problems that can develop from poor oral health.
While sitting around in a waiting room and then enduring a half hour in the chair may not seem like the most immediately productive way to spend time, it could prove to be the difference between life and death.
4. I might need more work done
This excuse is pretty common but, when you think about it, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Going to see a dentist doesn’t change the amount of work you need done. In a literal and figurative sense, your dentist is turning on a light in a dark room for you.
Not coming to see a dentist, however, you are likely increasing the amount of work that you will need. Additionally the major reactive procedures can be two or three times more expensive than catching a problem early-on.
The list of things in life that “sort themselves out” is not long. Sad as it may be, dental health is not on it.
5. It will be too expensive
With the lower half of our face numb and covered in spit, many of us have had our jaws drop when we discover the cost of a dental procedure.
Even with insurance, paying for these procedures can be frustrating and down-right difficult if you’re broke or haven’t budgeted for the expense. Just like the pain issue, however, it can be practically promised that it will cost you more if you let the check-ups and preventative visits slide off your calendar.
Because preventative health goes a long way with oral care, making sure you are regularly flossing and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can greatly reduce the cost of procedures you will need down the road.
In addition, almost all dentists have ways to finance the procedures if shelling out for them all at once is not feasible. We care about your oral health!
Although dentists have too-often been portrayed in media as sadistic caricatures, the truth is that we are all genuinely concerned about your health. Swinging by for a visit may not seem as crucial as a visit to your primary care physician, but ultimately it can be just as important for your health.