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Dental Economics 101

SCMC 9-10-2010 copyby Chris Edwards, DDS

September/October 2010

Solve Problems While They Are Small

IF YOU’RE TRYING to cut down on expenses by not having routine dental exams and cleanings, those savings will never amount to what you’ll eventually spend in bills when you have to receive advanced dental care later on. Daily brushing and flossing, watching what you eat and regular preventive dental visits are the most economical way to maintain oral health.

 

While the economy languishes and the impact of the latest health care legislation is yet to be determined, we may have a tendency to put things that don’t hurt aside. There is an old saying, “if it don’t hurt, don’t fix it.” The only problem with that attitude is that it is not always in your best interest. In your mouth, things may appear to be well and good if there is no pain. But often, when it starts to hurt it’s too late. You may be alerted to a problem if when you are brushing and flossing your teeth you spit out some blood. That is a sure indication of periodontal inflammation.

Dental care should be a priority, however, the poor economy has forced many to put both routine dental maintenance and acute care on the back burner due to more basic financial obligations. But, what people often forget is that the need for dental care is just as critical as the need for health care services. In the midst of this challenging economy, purse strings are tightening and a number of expenditures, seemingly unimportant, are getting tossed out the door. While this is understandable in the case of extraneous expenses, some services are not luxuries – they are necessities.

Neglecting preventive dental services is not only putting your dental heal that risk, it’s putting your physical health on the line as well. Bleeding, or infections may seem mere inconveniences at first, but as they smolder and progress, other body systems may be adversely affected and general health put in jeopardy. If you’re trying to cut down on expenses by not having routine dental exams and cleanings, those savings will never amount to what you’ll eventually spend in bills when you have to receive advanced dental care later on.

Prevention Is Critical

Daily brushing and flossing, watching what you eat and regular preventive dental visits are the most economical way to maintain oral health. Tooth pain often results from decay that was not picked up when it was small, or from cracked teeth caused by large or improperly made fillings. Amalgam fillings have an approximate life span of 10 years. An improper bite, or just wear and tear creates stress on and subsequent cracks in the fragile walls of a filled tooth. Your choices then are ignoring the situation, which most times will eventually result in more pain and expense, or dental attention in which a crown can save a tooth from a root canal or extraction.

As dental professionals and health advocates, we are acutely aware of the possibility of disease even in the absence of pain. The disturbing concern is that dental patients believe that if nothing is causing them pain, then nothing is wrong with their health.

Periodontal disease has long been described as silent – with definitive links between periodontal and coronary artery disease and stroke, and periodontal disease and uncontrolled blood sugar in diabetics – and it is imperative to educate the general public regarding these associations and risks. The key is to identify and solve problems while they are small so they don’t create further complications, expensive treatments and an increased burden on our patients’ finances.

 

Dr. Edwards graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Temple University School of Dentistry. He completed a general practice residency at the Queens Medical Center in Honolulu. To reach Dr. Edwards you may call 321-751-7775 or visit www.SDICFL.com