When it comes to dental health, many people do not get the care that they need. Lack of insurance, insufficient income, or low awareness of oral health keep many people out of the dentist chair. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), nearly 108 million people in North America live without dental insurance, and put off getting preventative or restorative dental care as a result. Waiting might seem like the more financially savvy option, but doing so can cost you more in the long run. Dental problems worsen over time, and can cause other health conditions that lead to higher medical bills for you.
The Benefits of Dental Cleanings
Although the cost of dental cleanings can seem high if you pay out of pocket, cleanings remove hardened bacteria that cause both tooth decay and periodontal disease (gum disease). Tooth decay can lead to tooth pain, infections under your teeth, loss of the tooth, and bone damage in your jaw if left untreated. Periodontal disease causes similar oral health problems.
Many people believe that going to the dentist only when they develop a toothache can save them money. Unfortunately, by the time you feel tooth pain, the damage is often advanced beyond the help of a filling. Tooth pain occurs when swelling of the soft tissue inside of your tooth puts pressure on the nerve and it begins to die. By the time that you feel pain, you usually need a root canal to remove the damaged tissue. You might also need a dental crown to repair the cavity, where a white filling could have helped if caught earlier. Regular dental cleanings can help your dentist spot developing problems before they cost you unnecessary pain and money.
Wide-Spread Health Problems
Regular dental care can save you from other costly medical bills as well. Bacteria from your mouth travel to the rest of your body and cause problems. Studies have linked gum disease to increased risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease. Recent studies have also found a possible link between gum disease and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Your dental cleanings can reveal any developing oral cancer before it becomes life-threatening. The World Health Organization reports that oral cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers around the world. Nearly 100,000 people die from cancer every year in the United States alone. Catching cancer early could save your life.
Not only can dental cleanings catch developing cancer and lower your risk of heart and kidney disease, but they can also detect other medical conditions early. Diabetes, for example, lowers your immune system and can impact your gum health even if you brush and floss at least twice every day. Lesions in the mucous lining of your mouth can indicate an HIV infection. Severe erosion in your back molars can reveal acid reflux, a damaging condition that can increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Protect Your Teeth to Protect Your Health
Even without dental insurance, taking care of your teeth should rank high on your priority list. Keeping your mouth healthy can help you keep your future medical and dental costs down.