Getting Over the Hurdles That Keep You From Seeing Your Dentist

The American Dental Association says an overwhelming 97% of you value your oral health!  Their recent survey on Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States (http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/OralHealthWell-Being-StateFacts/US-Oral-Health-Well-Being.pdf?la=en) also says that 95% of you agree that regular dental visits keep you healthy… but only 37% of you actually visited your dentist within the last year.

What keeps you from getting to the dentist as often as you want to? The majority of Americans say cost, fear, and inconvenience are the major hurdles that prevent them from visiting their dentist.  Hopefully we can share some good tips to help you overcome these obstacles.

First addressing cost, it’s no surprise that visiting your dentist (with or without insurance) can sometimes be costly.  Whether it’s just for your routine exams and cleanings or for larger procedures, dental costs can add up.  So what can you do about it?  First, you can always discuss your financial restrictions with your dental office. Sometimes they can arrange a payment plan or even a discount for you if you are having trouble.  If that isn’t an option, or not enough of a financial relief, there are also dental training schools that will do cleanings or procedures for discounted fees or for free.  Hygienists and dentists both need repetitive practice in order to become licensed. Check your area for dental hygiene schools or dental colleges and see what their clinic hours and availability are, they may be able to help you get in for cleanings or procedures at a more affordable rate.  

Second, regarding fear of the dentist… we see many patients who are fearful of the dentist.  Whether it’s because of the perceived pain they will experience or a bad past experience, about 22% of you say that you skip the dentist because of dental anxiety or phobia. If you are afraid of the pain you may experience in the chair, the thing you should know is that many procedures in a dental office get a bad reputation.  Root canals in particular are a commonly referenced procedure that many people make synonymous with pain.  The truth is that root canal treatments relieve pain, usually within one visit! Another dreaded procedure is wisdom tooth removal; though sometimes there is jaw pain for a few days afterwards, the discomfort can be treated with pain relievers prescribed by your dentist.  Overall, the procedures themselves should not be painful; any visit that could involve anything painful would start with numbing the area being treated so that you don’t feel anything.  If at any time you do start to feel pain, all you have to do is let your dentist know and they will quickly remedy the problem.  If you need help getting over your fear there are few tips recommended:

Lastly, inconvenience is the final large hurdle in making regular visits to your dentist. If your oral health is important to you then you may need to make a few small sacrifices.  Just like the choices you make for your overall health, like going to the gym early in the morning or after work when you are tired, skipping that cocktail at happy hour, eating a salad instead of fries at a meal, sometimes healthy decisions can be inconvenient, but in the end it’s worth it right?  For routine visits to your dentist you only need to make 2-4 trips a year (depending on the frequency of your maintenance program with your dentist).  In the grand scheme of things, isn’t taking a few hours a year less inconvenient than dealing with even bigger problems because you didn’t get in for your cleanings? Like hiding your smile because you’re embarrassed by it?  Or having to eat soft food because you can’t chew food well anymore?  Or even missing out on social events or job interviews because you are too self-conscious? And keep in mind, a few hours a year for your oral health can also benefit your overall physical health, especially for those of you with diabetes or heart problems. 

Visiting your dentist regularly is important, though I obviously don’t need to tell you all that! 85% of you feel you need 2 visits to the dentist per year, so get over the obstacles and into the chair!

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