I can’t afford dental insurance and my teeth aren’t hurting…is a checkup really necessary?

Absolutely!  Actually, without dental insurance to help you cover the cost of restorative dentistry, it’s as much or more important now for you to schedule regular visits to your dentist than ever.  Preventive dental care, including regular cleanings, is a must for you to save you money as well as potential pain and aggrevation.

Restorative dentistry, like fillings, crowns, or root canals, is required when small cavities or cracked teeth become bigger problems.  These are much more expensive to fix than the regular dental checkups that would prevent them.

Getting your teeth cleaned twice a year and having small cavities filled is far less expensive than waiting for a toothache to come along.  Often, by the time you have tooth pain, fixing the cause of the pain requires much more extensive work than keeping your teeth healthy along the way.  Visiting your dentist regularly for an exam, x-rays, and cleaning allows you to maintain a healthy smile.  Small problems, like a cavity requiring a filling, can be fixed before they become truly troublesome, requiring major restorative dentistry.  For example, a study in the November 2007 Journal of Periodontology (http://www.joponline.org/doi/abs/10.1902/jop.2007.070193) found that preventing periodontal disease may be one way to help lower your total health care expenses.  In the study, patients with severe periodontal disease had 21 percent higher health care costs as compared to those with no periodontal disease. Severe periodontal disease (periodontitis) involves bone loss and diminished tissue attachment around the teeth.  And since past research has shown that periodontal disease may lead to other serious health conditions, striving to maintain oral health may help diminish the need to incur additional health care expenses, and ultimately help reduce overall health care spending.

Typically, the expenses you’d incur with semi-annual exams and cleanings over three or four years would run you about the same expense as having a single crown!  More than 25 years of practical experience in our office and case studies like the one cited above have shown that folks who visit their dentist regularly spend much less money over time than those who wait for a toothache before making the call for a dental appointment. 

Moral to the story?  Find a dentist that you’re comfortable with and can trust, and visit him twice a year!

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