The benefits of seeing your dentist every six months stretch far beyond simply having healthier, better-looking teeth. Oral health is directly connected to your overall wellbeing. Every time you make a dentist appointment, your chances of enjoying the future increase.
The truth is, some of life’s best rewards will most likely go to people with good oral health. Here are just five rewards, all of which are much harder to get if you don’t take care of your teeth:
1. A Longer Life
When you see your dentist often, you lower your risk for a large range of ills. If left untreated, oral bacteria causes gum disease and tooth decay. It can even enter the blood and spread plaque through the body.
Depending on your family history, this could put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and cancer. It can even lead to diseases like stroke, Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Here’s the thing, though. Oral bacteria are incredibly easy to eliminate. Your dentist can help you to stave off these diseases through the benefits of regular exams and cleanings. That is, as long as you manage plaque build up by keeping your regular dentist appointments.
2. Higher Income
Speaking of benefits, research has shown that people with great teeth and smiles are more likely to earn higher salaries and get more job opportunities than people who seem to view their smile as less of a priority. One study used fake job interviews and found that those who had the best smiles were viewed as more confident and skilled.
Learn more: Dental Inequality in America
This isn’t much of a surprise, though. It’s only natural for someone with good oral health to be seen as serious, disciplined, and concerned about his or her effect on others. So, if you want to make your dream job a reality, it can help to keep up with regular dental visits.
3. More Money in the Bank
People with good oral health tend to have lower bills as they get older. The cost of regular dental visits to prevent problems is a fraction of the cost for the type of reactive care patients who have advanced gum disease may need.
Infographic: Prevent vs. Repair – See why it pays to invest in protecting your teeth.
4. Less Stress
When you work to address oral health problems head on, there is less need to worry about the state of your teeth. People who never skip the dentist also have to worry less about certain foods or beverages causing pain or long-term damage.
With some types of oral health issues, cold or hot foods or drinks can be a problem. When you see your dentist often, she can help you to manage the effects of sugar, alcohol and caffeine, which may be the cause. Lastly, if you have a lot of stress, your dentist will know, and be able to tell you, what you can do to help.
5. Better Love Life
Not only will people who take care of their teeth stay attractive to their partners, but they will also have less difficulty finding romantic partners. In fact, a 2013 survey of nearly 5,500 single adults ages 21 and older revealed straight, white teeth to be the quality single men and women look for most when choosing a mate.
When you visit the dentist every 6 months, you won’t be as worried about your partner seeking greener pastures. And who knows? You may even be able to win over the object of your affections, regardless of your age.
How Much Brighter Could Your Future Be?
Sounds like a happy life, right? You can gain these rewards and a lot more if you simply go to the dentist and follow through with their advice and care.
Missing just one or two appointments might not seem like a big deal. But as you age, you may grow more conscious of how your teeth look and feel. So think of your long-term health and financial strength, and stick to your regular dental exams!
Read next: 4 Most Overlooked Oral Health Problems
If you haven’t already heard about the rising number of ER visits for dental injuries or other emergencies across the U.S., do yourself a favor and look it up. No time for that? Here’s a quick summary:
According to an April 2015 report published by the American Dental Association, trips to the ER due to dental conditions nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, and the number continues to rise. Overall, ER visits have gone down for those aged 19 to 25 and remained about the same for children. The increased number of visits is by people aged 25 and older.
However, as investigative reporters across the country have shown, few emergency rooms are equipped to deal fully with dental emergencies. In many, perhaps most cases, ER patients with dental concerns are treated with painkillers and antibiotics, and are then referred to a dentist.
What is behind the rising number of dental ER visits?
Many issues are likely to be fueling the continued rise in the number of people who go to the ER due to dental
conditions. For one, insurers have traditionally separated dental coverage from health coverage, an incongruity that carried over and now affects how health benefits are defined in the Affordable Care Act. Dental and vision coverage for children is defined as one of the 10 essential health benefits, but dental coverage for adults is not required.
Medicaid attempts to ensure older Americans have adequate access to dental care, but compared to adults with private health insurance, adults with Medicaid are nearly 5 times as likely to have poor oral health. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2012.)
Another piece of the puzzle is the lack of access to dental professionals in some rural or remote parts of the U.S. In many parts of the nation, there is an uneven distribution of dentists, which is having serious consequences. Kaiser Health News reported in 2013 that 16% of Americans live in areas with an insufficient number of dentists.
Federal guidelines, according to Kaiser, call for one dentist to every 5,000 people. Those who live in under-represented areas cope with the lack of dentists as well as they can, often by putting off or doing without necessary dental care until a trip to the ER is unavoidable.
What is being done to address the problem?
The increase in dental emergency room visits is straining the limits of emergency departments and costing far more than routine care and prevention would have cost. For example, it is estimated that for every dollar spent on children’s preventive care, between $8 and $50 could be saved on emergency treatment. (Source: Insuring Bright Futures: Improving Access to Dental Care and Providing a Healthy Start for Children.)
Dental schools, dentists, community health centers with dental clinics, dental associations, and non-profit organizations are doing all they can to provide help for people who have no dental coverage or who have poor access to dental professionals. Hardly a month goes by without at least one major free dental event being held somewhere across the U.S., and many smaller events are being held frequently, as well.
Learn more: Dental Degrees
In addition, support continues to build for dental therapists. Proponents of creating this new type of “mid-level” dental practitioner say dental therapists can help to increase access to oral health care and free up dentists to do other, more critical work.
What can you do? Prevention is Key
At a policy level, the rise in ER visits for dental complaints indicates a need for more spending on adult oral health education and programs that support preventive dentistry for at-risk populations. On an individual level, understanding this situation should encourage more individuals to focus on preventing oral health problems long before they get out of control.
People with dental insurance are twice as likely to see a dentist as are those without a dental plan. (Source: National Institute of Health, 2010.) The generally low cost of dental insurance makes it highly affordable compared to emergency care.
In addition, many people who purchase dental insurance can benefit immediately. That is because dental insurance encourages, and generally pays for, regular check-ups.
Here are some of the key reasons why dental coverage is important to have, and – arguably – among the health benefits that should be considered “essential.”
- To Help You Pay for Costly Care: Dental care can be simple – such as a twice-yearly visit for a professional cleaning and x-rays – or it may involve costly care, such as oral surgery, getting a full set of dentures, or needing a crown. Depending on the type of dental insurance you get, dental plans generally pay either all or a percentage of the charges.
- To Help You Maintain a Healthy Mouth: Studies have shown regular dental exams and dental cleanings help people keep their teeth and gums healthy. In fact, most insurance plans pay 100% for check-ups every 6 months because the insurers know prevention is the key to cost-control.
- To Help You Protect Your Overall Health: The artificial barrier between oral health and health, period, is an illusion. Studies show our mouths can exhibit the symptoms related to more than 120 different non-dental diseases. So, even if there’s nothing wrong with your teeth and gums, regular visits to the dentist can help ensure early detection of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. And that alone can make dental insurance well worth the investment.
And if you are a woman, you have even more reason to take charge of your oral health. That’s because, year after year, the percentage of U.S. women in the 18 to 64 age group who miss needed dental care due to cost is consistently higher than it is for men. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics, 2013.)
Many types of dental plans can help you take charge or your oral health, including dental health maintenance organization plans (DHMOs), discount dental plans or cards, and preferred provider organization plans (PPOs). To receive instant online quotes for plans available in your area, enter your zip in the box on our home page.
Why Dental Insurance is Important: Learn more about the top three reasons why dental insurance makes sense.
Common Causes of a Broken Tooth: Learn what to do in case of a dental emergency as well as the situations that need attention right away.
Knocked-Out Tooth: Learn what you can do to help make sure a tooth survives if it is knocked out.
One of the great benefits of having a good dental insurance plan is that regular appointments for teeth cleaning and oral exams are covered. One big reason for this is that insurance companies know a focus on prevention can actually help an individual lower their future costs for dental repairs.
But there’s another reason why your dentist and oral hygienist want to see you twice a year: to help keep you healthy from head to toe.
During a routine visit to the dentist, several serious diseases (such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) can be detected. If you’re like many people, there’s a good chance you see your dental hygienist more frequently than you see your general practitioner.
So how great is it that dental hygienists are trained to screen their patients for signs and symptoms that may indicate problems in other parts of the body?
In fact, during a dental health screening, a trained oral health practitioner can spot over 120 signs and symptoms of non-dental diseases.
…a trained oral health practitioner can spot over 120 signs and symptoms of non-dental diseases.
If that sounds like it would be time consuming, well, it is. Trying to fit an oral hygiene exam, scaling and polishing, and a doctor exam into a one hour appointment can be a major challenge.
Early detection and prompt referrals
The good news is: the more frequently you have your teeth professionally cleaned, the less time your hygienist will need to spend scaling and polishing your teeth, and the more time will be available for your oral care team to devote to overall health screening, early detection of any concerns, and prompt referral to a primary care provider.
If all you want is a brighter smile, then that may sound like it’s a waste of time.
But if you ask them, your dentist and oral hygienist will very likely tell you they have a bigger goal in mind for you: keeping you healthy all over, so you’ll have every reason to smile.
Learn more about your oral health.
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Unfortunately, not every kid with dental phobia can be put at ease by a dentist who dresses up as the tooth fairy. And not every father has the comic skill and parental panache to turn Hermie’s horrifying dentistry in the 1964 animated TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” into a lesson on the importance of proper dental hygiene.
(Who can ever forget the “misfit” elf brandishing those gruesome pliers after extracting the Abominable Snow Monster’s teeth?)
Dental phobia or fear is, of course, no laughing matter. But there is a great deal that parents, caregivers and dentists can do – and are doing – to help kids get through the experience of a trip to the dentist with a smile.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective interventions for dealing with dental fear in children.
What’s the most effective treatment of dental phobia in children?
As in so many things in life, when it comes to kids and fear of the dentist, good communication is key.
Parents, caregivers and dentists all have a role to play in setting the stage for not only a good first visit to the dentist’s office, but a lifelong commitment to regular, professional dental care without fear and anxiety. How we frame those initial experiences with words can be very important.
Before the first trip to the dentist
To help ensure things go well during the first visit, your dentist may provide you with some “dos” and “don’ts” in advance. Things like, when talking to kids about the dentist and what goes on during a visit to the dentist’s office, avoid using words like “hurt,” “pain,” “shot,” and other words that have a negative or fearful connotation.
Rule of thumb: only say things that are positive.
Also, experts recommend parents answer children’s questions about the dentist, but, they suggest, don’t go into a lot of unnecessary detail. Be brief. If you don’t know the answer, or if the answer is a little on the complex side, suggest that you and your child save the question for, who else? The dentist. After all, they’re the ones who have years of training and a lot of practice talking to kids about what they do in non-threatening, kid-friendly ways.
…answer children’s questions about the dentist, but don’t go into a lot of unnecessary detail.
Above all, never tell kids about the time you had a terrible (or even unpleasant) time at the dentist. Instead, be sure they understand how important it is to take good care of their teeth. Let them know the dentist and dental office staff members are nice, friendly folks who enjoy helping people, both big and small, be as healthy and happy as they can be.
At the dentist’s office
Even if you’ve done your best to prepare your child for their new experience, it’s not uncommon, and it’s completely natural, for kids to be afraid sometimes. Some kids detest spiders. Others won’t go near a clown. Whether a child cries or throws a temper tantrum, any dentist who regularly works with children will have an array of techniques at her fingertips to put kids more at ease.
Again, in many cases it comes down to good communication. Many dentists who work with kids are quite adept at regulating their tone of voice, so that they are able to go from warm and comforting to gently commanding as the circumstances dictate.
Some dentists use a technique called “show, tell, and do.” It’s a way to explain, step by step, what tools the dentist is using, how they’re used, and what the dentist is going to do next. Pediatric dentists are also trained to use language that’s appropriate for the kids they work with, and there’s a good chance yours will use kid-friendly props – such as a giant tooth or doll – to show your kids what they’re about to do.
Distraction is another communication skill that dentists use to put kids at ease.
Distraction is another communication skill that dentists use to put kids at ease. Telling stories or having a conversation can help dentists focus kids’ attention somewhere other than on the procedure itself. And when needed, most dentists know that when it comes to kids’ behaviors, simple body language can go a long way toward accentuating the positive and discouraging, if not eliminating, the negative.
What can you do if nothing seems to help?
In some instances, it may take more than clever communication to help your child get through their time in the chair. In such cases, a dentist may recommend that a child use safe and effective medications such as nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) during their visit or take an oral sedative beforehand.
Finally, if you or your dentist feel your child’s fear of going to the dentist is extreme or out of control, therapy may be the answer. Therapeutic techniques, including psychotherapy (exploring the source of the fear), cognitive behavioral therapy (practicing practical strategies for dealing with it), and hypnotherapy, may help a child overcome their fears so they can receive and maintain the professional dental care they deserve.
Everyone is afraid of something. Learning how to face our fears is part of growing up.
Everyone is afraid of something. Learning how to face our fears is part of growing up. And you may be surprised. One day, a young adult who was frightened by a routine dental exam, teeth cleaning, or other dental procedure as a child just may decide that they, like Rudolph’s nerdy buddy Hermie, want to be a dentist.
Have you helped a child get past their fear of the dentist? What worked for you? Post your tips or a comment in the Reply section below!
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Rotten teeth, tooth decay, and gum diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis are usually the result of poor oral care. These health conditions cost far more to repair than to prevent.
You may not be able to kill two birds with one stone, but when it comes to oral health there is one very simple and affordable thing you can do to avoid these serious – and potentially expensive – problems. That is: take preventive oral hygiene seriously.
Tooth decay and gum diseases get their start with a substance called plaque. Preventive oral hygiene includes daily efforts to eliminate plaque and prevent its build up. It also includes regular checkups and professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar that can build up on teeth despite dedicated daily care.
What is plaque?
Plaque is the name for a sticky and translucent substance that is constantly being produced by our mouths. The bacteria in plaque consume sugars that are contained in various types of food. This creates acids that attack the surface of the teeth and toxins that may attack the bone beneath the gums.
The acids assault tooth enamel for 20 or more minutes after you have sugary food or beverages. Eventually, the acids may begin to destroy the enamel, which is how tooth decay gets a foothold, so to speak.
Plaque can also penetrate below the gum line, where the toxins can threaten the underlying bone.
Plaque can also penetrate below the gum line, where the toxins can threaten the underlying bone. The result is gingivitis or periodontitis. Obviously, neither situation – a rotten tooth or poor gum health – is high on anyone’s wish list.
Treatments and costs
Not least among the reasons for avoiding tooth decay or gum disease is the expense involved in treatment. In either case, treatment options depend on the severity of the problem, and as the severity mounts, so do the costs for professional care.
…as the severity mounts, so do the costs for professional care.
Milder cases of tooth decay may be treated by simply using a fluoride-based treatment. If cavities have developed, however, a filling will be required. More severe cases may require that a dentist fit the tooth with a crown, perform a root canal operation, or even pull the tooth altogether.
Gum disease is likewise increasingly more expensive to deal with the longer it is ignored or left undiagnosed and allowed to progress. If a milder case of gum disease is caught in time, patients may be able to simply brush and floss their way back to optimal health. More serious cases will require professional cleaning by a dental hygienist to get rid of built up plaque. A severe case of gum disease may require antibiotics or even surgery.
Preventing tooth decay and gum disease
Repair or prevent? Well, we think it’s a “no brainer” – but then, consider the source…
If you really need any more convincing, try plugging the phrases “Oral Conditions and Diseases” or “Tooth Conditions and Disorders” into your browsers’ search bar and see what images come up. YUCKA!!!
But, if you’re already convinced about the power of prevention – and could use a brush up on oral care basics – check out this overview of basic dental care in our blog archives.
While you’re at it, why not call to schedule your next dental checkup?
Share a smile with us! Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or add us to Google+.The Affordable Care Act mandates dental coverage for children 18 and younger, but it leaves adults to fend for themselves where oral health is concerned. That’s a shame. The connection between oral health and overall health is well documented, and leaving adult dental coverage off the list of essential health benefits sends the wrong message about the importance oral health.
Dental insurance is unique among insurance products in several ways:
First, the generally low cost of dental insurance makes it highly affordable for many individuals and families.
Secondly, many people who purchase dental insurance start to benefit immediately, because dental insurance encourages, and generally pays for, regular check-ups.
The Top 3 Reasons Why Dental Insurance Makes Sense
The truth is, even without a federal mandate, people have bought – and will continue to buy – dental insurance for a variety of reasons.
Here are three of the most common reasons for buying dental insurance:
Reason 1: To Pay for Costly Care
Dental care can be as simple as a twice-yearly visit for a professional cleaning and x-rays. On the other hand, it can involve costly care, such as oral surgery, getting a full set of dentures, or needing a crown.
…expenses can mount quickly – especially if dental work is required as a result of an emergency…
Because expenses can mount quickly – especially if dental work is required as a result of an emergency – it truly pays to be covered. Depending on the type of insurance, dental plans generally pay either all or a percentage of the charges related to dental care.
Share a smile with us! Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or add us to Google+.
Reason 2: To Maintain a Healthy Mouth
Preventing oral health problems before they start is one of the best ways to keep dental costs down. Many studies have shown that regular dental check-ups and cleanings help people keep their teeth and gums healthy. That’s why most insurance plans pay 100% for check-ups every 6 months.
Just how important is preventive care? Well, let’s put it this way: It’s important enough that some dental insurance plans will even pay for a check-up immediately after new plan subscribers are approved for coverage.
Reason 3: To Protect Overall Health
You may not know it, but the truth is, there’s an awful lot a dentist can tell while gazing into your mouth. Studies have shown that our mouths can exhibit symptoms related to more than 120 different non-dental diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
So even if there’s nothing wrong with your teeth and gums (and we certainly hope that’s the case!), visiting a dentist regularly can lead to early detection of serious diseases, which alone can make dental insurance well worth the investment.
Peace of Mind…and a Gorgeous Smile, to Boot
The lifetime cost of maintaining a healthy mouth can mount to thousands of dollars, but for pennies a day, dental insurance will be there to provide important benefits when needed.
To learn more about the types of dental insurance available and find answers to your questions about dental insurance and oral care, visit the DentalInsurance.com knowledge base.
Learn More: Preventative Dentistry