Did you know that dental coverage doesn’t work like your health insurance does? Many people avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. But maintaining a healthy mouth is proven to save you money. Why? Because it improves your oral health and your overall health, helping you avoid costly problems and conditions later on. Not taking care of your smile leads to tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis (gum disease), which can contribute to worsening overall health conditions. That’s why maintaining your oral health by using preventive dental care is so important.
You’ve likely been trained to call the doctor when you have an ear infection, bad allergies, stomach pain, etc. That means that you’re usually waiting for the problem to occur to address and fix it. Your smile works differently, though. Your dentist’s job is to make sure your mouth is healthy so that problems don’t have the opportunity to arise. The dentist helps you avoid potentially painful and costly problems resulting from poor oral health. If you maintain your smile health, restorative care procedures likely won’t be needed.
Restorative Care vs. Preventive Care
Some individuals never have the need for restorative dental care because they have good home oral hygiene habits and get routine preventive dental care. Preventive care includes seeing your dentist twice a year for a cleaning, brushing with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day and after meals, and flossing daily. Tending to any other oral health concerns like teeth grinding or a dry mouth should also be part of your preventive care routine.
When was the last time you heard someone proclaiming the importance of preventive dental care? Likely not often. That leads many individuals to be unaware of the impact poor dental health can have on overall health. In turn, lifelong practices of poor dental care result in overall health concerns and the need for costly restorative dental care. Restorative care is the next step dentists have to take after preventive care isn’t enough.
Where’s the Education Around Preventive Dental Care?
When was the last time you saw something about the dangers of smoking and its impact on your mouth and teeth? Probably not nearly as often as you hear how smoking impacts overall health. Smoking is responsible for higher rates of caries and periodontal disease but also for certain forms of mouth and esophageal cancer. We’re seeing more research into the connection between our oral and our overall health. By utilizing preventive dental care, nearly all oral health related diseases can be prevented.
Good Preventive Dental Care
Good preventive oral health care starts with regular visits to the dentist each year. But it’s also about knowing and having good oral health habits at home by brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least once per day. Other habits negatively impact our oral health including smoking, sugar consumption, diet, and alcohol consumption. Oral health in America has improved over the years, but it still has a long way to go.
One in 4 Americans has untreated tooth decay, putting the total number at close to 100 million Americans. People with dental benefits are far more likely to see the dentist, and about 77% of the population has dental benefits. Consequently, people with dental coverage are also more likely to practice good preventive dental care at home.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans, those without dental insurance are:
- 67 percent more likely to have heart disease.
- 50 percent more likely to have osteoporosis.
- 29 percent more likely to have diabetes.
While we don’t hear often about the consequences of poor oral health, they still have a significant impact on your health and quality of life.
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