If my teeth don’t hurt, should I go to the dentist?
Patients often come into my office for a routine dental exam and are surprised to hear that they need a filling, a root canal, or some other corrective procedure. It’s shocking news for them because they’ve had no physical pain or sensitivity to indicate that there was a problem.
Most people understand disease can be present in the body, and they may not experience any symptoms. However, when it comes to their teeth, they expect that there will always be pain or discomfort to indicate a problem.
Your mouth is just another part of your body, and it behaves in the same way. Your mouth will try to manage the disease or decay before it asks for help. When your teeth do finally ask for help, in the form of sensitivity or pain, the decay has reached a moderate to a severe level, and more intense damage may have already begun.
Just because your teeth don’t hurt, doesn’t mean there isn’t decay happening in your mouth.
Chances are you won’t know when you have a cavity.
A cavity is a hole in your tooth. The plaque sits on your tooth, and the bacteria in the plaque eat away at the outer layer (enamel). This hole rarely causes pain until it reaches down to the nerve in your tooth. That exposed nerve is what is painful. If we can detect the cavity in an earlier phase, before it hits the nerve, we can fix it with a simple filling. If we don’t start to treat it until it gets to the nerve, a root canal is the next step.
“I don’t go to the dentist because I’m trying to save money.”
I’ll share a little secret with you. Studies show that over the course of your lifetime you are going to pay your dentist about the same amount of money whether you make consistent preventative appointments or you only make appointments when you have major work to be done.
The truth is, either you pay now or pay later. Let’s evaluate.
- You stick to a regular dental exam schedule.
If you schedule preventative cleaning appointments on a regular basis, and you’ve created habits for flossing, brushing and rinsing, then your treatments will be less invasive and the cost more predictable.
- You are only going to the dentist when something hurts.
If you only schedule dental appointments when your teeth become sensitive, are starting to break, etc., the necessary treatments will be more invasive and will cost you more. When you choose this route, the cost isn’t predictable and may end up being an amount that makes it difficult for you to decide to go forward with the treatment you need.
“I don’t go to the dentist because it gives me anxiety.”
Dentists have always been portrayed as scary and all dental treatments as painful (think of scenes from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Horton Hears a Who!). But there’s really no need to worry. Dentistry has come a long way since the days of novocaine (did you know we don’t even use that anymore?), and, other than the actual care of your teeth, your comfort is our top priority. Don’t hesitate to let us know you have dental anxiety so we can be sure to cater to your needs.
If you find yourself feeling anxious, it may be because you’re not visiting the dentist often enough. It seems counterintuitive, but the more often you come in for cleanings, the less invasive your treatments will be. Many of our patients who experience deep anxiety around dental visits, SCHEDULE MORE FREQUENT cleaning appointments. This is a pro-move by patients with anxiety or a history of dental issues! Scheduling appointments more often helps your dental team to be more proactive about your treatments instead of reactionary. And the more often you do something, the less scary it becomes!
Prioritizing the health of your teeth with consistent cleanings/exams can have a direct impact on the quality and length of your life.
Relax. We’ve got a comfort menu!
To make your experience as relaxing as possible, we proudly offer a complimentary comfort menu here at Anderson Dental Care. Our menu includes items like a warm blanket, aromatherapy, noise-canceling headphones, neck and knee pillows, and everyone’s favorite — the paraffin wax hand dip.
We’ve made these comforting items available to help ensure that you are as relaxed as possible during your visit. We realize that getting your teeth cleaned isn’t the same as treating yourself to a massage, but making your oral health a priority definitely counts as self-care, and we want it to feel that way too.