I was using my break at work to explore my new insurance policy and find a dentist when my co-worker, an intelligent woman with a 401K and everything, scoffed at me over my shoulder. “A family dentist? I just go to an urgent care center when I need something. What do you need a family dentist at your beck and call for?”
A lot of people have this reaction, but the fact is that regularly visiting a family dentist is an important part of your preventative health care regimen.
First of all, your teeth are important, both cosmetically and functionally. In fact, something like 99% of people believe a good smile isn’t just attractive, but a critical part of their social capital. And of course, healthy teeth are key to eating and speaking productively, as anyone who’s ever had a really bad toothache will attest.
Now, if you’re anything like my co-worker, you’re probably thinking, “Okay I get that, but why would I spend all that money and time to go for a dental exam when nothing is wrong?!” Well, financing dental care is usually extremely doable. Even if you don’t have dental insurance, any dentist worth their salt will provide a payment plan for dental exams and work with you to help get you treated.
Second of all, (and I really can’t emphasize this enough), going to a dentist before you’re calling the 24 hour dentist hotline screaming in agony will save you loads of pain and money in the long run, mainly due to two features:
First, there’s the professional cleaning that usually marks the beginning of a routine dental visit. If you’ve been avoiding it like the plague, it usually goes something like this. You sit in a nice restful waiting room, then the dental hygienist brings you back and directs you to sit in this cool spaceship recliner that would be comfortable if you weren’t freaking out. They’ll then use all kinds of high powered water brushes, picks, and scrubby things on your teeth, none of which are painful but all of which seem very much like overkill. You might be left wondering what it’s all been for.
The answer? tartar. Tartar is like plaque’s angrier, harder cousin. Even if you brush and floss every day, excess plaque can harden into tartar overtime and form a shell of gross on your teeth that can only be removed by the Scifi instruments. If left unchecked, tartar buildup can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gingivitis. Which brings us to the visit’s second important feature…
These are usually performed by the dentist themselves. During the check-up, a dentist will check for the hazards mentioned above as well as other things like cavities, tooth sensitivity, gum recession, impacted wisdom teeth, and other things they went to dental school to scope out. Catching these problems when they’re small means they’re easier to fix. Your dentist will also educate you on how to avoid problems in the future and help you make sure your at-home dental care routine is as clutch as possible
So remember, even if you’re not planning on getting (fabulous) dental implants or contributing to the 1.4 billion dollar tooth whitening industry, it is critical to visit a dentist at least once a year, preferably once every six months.