Most patients don’t want to go to the dentist. That might be because they don’t see the importance, they are scared or have anxiety, have had past traumatic experiences, or they are just too busy to make time for an appointment. We all have busy lives; we over extend ourselves, take on too much and then later complain when nothing goes right. How many of you have wished for more hours in your days? I think we all have, and our patients are no different. The problem with putting off a dental appointment is it will cause you more problems in the long run than taking the time to come in for a preventative, routine cleaning and exam to ensure your oral health is in order. Just like anything else, once you allow your oral health to no longer be a priority, it will suffer. Many of our busy patients put off going to the dentist, putting other things before their oral health, until it is too late. And by too late, I mean possible painful scenarios.
One possible outcome of putting off a dental visit could be the development of periodontal disease or otherwise known as gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that support your teeth. It occurs when germs infect the gum tissues around the teeth, causing redness, swelling and bleeding. When patients come in to our office, they are often shocked to learn that they themselves have gum disease and don’t even know it. Around 47% of American adults have some form of gum disease, 100% of which is preventable by going to your cleaning visits twice a year which is usually covered by most dental insurance plans. At bi-annual visits, patients can get professionally cleaned, full-mouth x-rays can be taken, and we can monitor your overall oral health. Gum disease can cause not only bad breath and bleeding gums, but toothaches and eventually tooth and bone loss gum disease has been linked to major health problems including heart disease, strokes, preterm and stillborn births, as well as certain cancers. However, if dealt with early on, the effects are reversible.
An additional outcome of putting off dental visits are toothaches from tooth decay and fractures. We don’t want patients to only come in to see us when they are in pain. By this time, it could be infected, abscessed and too late to save a tooth. The longer a patient lets a toothache or problem go on, the costlier it will be and even more painful to deal with. At Higginbotham Family Dental, our wish is to save all teeth through restorations, but sometimes that is not an option and teeth have to be pulled and replaced with bridges and implants. Both options are effective but much more expensive.
Once a toothache has developed, most want to know if there are any home remedies to cure it. Although some home remedies may relieve some pain temporarily, it is never going to be a long-term solution. To temporarily alleviate some pain and discomfort, patients can do warm salt water rinses, as well as alternate 400 mg of Ibuprofen and 400mg of Acetaminophen every 2-4 hours depending on the pain severity until they can be treated. Ultimately, the only permanent solution for a toothache is to see your dentist and seek treatment. An antibiotic may be needed for infections and immediate treatment to remove decay such as an extraction may be the only solution to stop the pain.
Toothaches are one of the worst things to deal with and at Higginbotham Family Dental we understand and want to do what we can to get patients in the same day to be treated. That is why we take walk-ins, offer in-house financing, and are in network with most dental insurance plans. We want it to be as convenient and quick as possible for patients to be treated and out of pain. We also offer extended hours and Saturdays, so we can see patients that have emergencies. Toothaches can ruin plans, keep us from going to work or school, or participating in other activities with our friends and families. For these reasons we want all patients to keep their preventative cleaning appointments twice a year with us to avoid debilitating toothache pain.
Don’t let a toothache go on for more than a couple days. Usually if your tooth or gums are hurting you, there is a reason. We typically hear patients say, “I need to be seen, I have had a toothache for weeks now.” This means the tooth could have so much decay that instead of a simple filling, it could need a crown or maybe even a root canal which can be double or triple the price of a filling. Worst case, the tooth could be dead and must be pulled.
Pulling teeth and going without teeth is not ideal. For a better quality of life, the tooth would need to be replaced with a bridge or a dental implant. Most people don’t want a toothache to advance to that level due to cost and time, so we urge all patients, preventative appointments must be made and kept to avoid all the above costly outcomes. Not all toothaches are always severe, but we won’t know until an x-ray is done for us to examine the situation. Some toothaches can be as simple as jaw pain from overnight grinding and a simple mouth guard could be the solution. But for us to ever help our patients, we need them to trust us with their oral healthcare and make sure they come in for cleanings and exams regularly, get treatment as soon as it is recommended by the dentist, and maintain good oral hygiene at home by brushing for at least two minutes every day twice a day and flossing daily. At Higginbotham Family Dental, we want to be partners with our patients and want to help keep pain and costs down for them. So, as long as patients do the few things we have suggested, we can help ensure their oral health stays in optimal condition and the toothaches are nowhere in sight for the foreseeable future.