Don’t wait till something hurts before you see the dentist.
Story: Dr. Charles Reinertsen, DMD
Bring the pain
I know this sounds funny coming from a dentist, but the older I get, the more I like pain. Please let me explain. In our office, we’ll do everything we can not to create pain and to stop any pain you’re already feeling. But in my 40 years of practicing, I’ve never seen a bigger motivator than pain.
For example, we’ll tell someone they have a cavity on a tooth and we need to repair it. The patient decides to put it off because it doesn’t hurt. Well, by the time it hurts, the tooth may need a much larger filling, a crown or possibly a root canal. All of these other procedures could have been avoided if they had taken care of their tooth before there was pain.
Brush away myths
Waiting for pain can be very expensive, not to mention painful. The No. 1 myth of dental care is a lack of pain means good health. Just because it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t mean everything is OK in your mouth. High blood pressure, glaucoma, diabetes and cancer also have no pain for years or even decades. They’re not healthy, either!
A patient of mine is a physician. He called and said his teeth were starting to get loose, so we set up an appointment. By the time he came in, one of his lower teeth had fallen out. It turns out he had severe gum disease and never knew it because he didn’t feel any pain. We finally got the gum disease under control, but not before he lost six teeth.
Don’t let this happen to you
How do you keep problems from happening to you? The answers are simple and fairly obvious, but let’s review them.
Step No. 1
First, take the time to properly brush and care for your teeth. Remember, it takes five to seven minutes to thoroughly clean your mouth. If you invest that much time each day, you’ll avoid most of these problems. Check how good you did with “disclosing tablets” that stain any plaque you missed, then go back and clean all the plaque off. Disclosing tablets are sold over the counter and also available at amazon.com.
Step No. 2
Second, have your teeth checked regularly by a qualified dentist. Once a year is fine, and twice a year is better. Just don’t go years between checkups. Remember, if you wait for pain before going to the dentist, you very likely could be experiencing problems that could have been avoided. Make sure your dentist is checking for decay, gum disease, airway restrictions and your bite. These four areas are critical to your overall health.
Step No. 3
Finally, when a problem is found—whether or not it is causing discomfort—deal with it right away. It most likely won’t go away or fix itself, and it will only get worse—and more expensive and painful—over time. Take control of your oral health, and your mouth, body and wallet will thank you!
About the writer → Dr. Charles Reinertsen is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He opened LifeTime Dental practice in Tavares in 1979. He has volunteered for national and community-based charitable organizations such as Give Kids a Smile and Project Dentists Care of Lake County. He also authored a book, “The Power of a Really Great Smile.”