Do I Want To Keep My Teeth?

When it comes to your health in general and oral health in particular, prevention is better than cure. You have heard this again and again: “Avoid certain foods”, “Brush your teeth twice a day”, “Floss your teeth once a day”, “Get your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months”, etc. Despite this, many people don’t see their dentist regularly, cancel their appointments or are simply no-shows for many reasons. When asked, “Why do you do it?”, they provide one or more of the following or other explanations:


1. I have no money; I can’t afford it:


6 units of scaling (professional teeth cleaning) a year costs approximately $350 – that’s 96 cents a day and less than the cost of a cup of coffee! This helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy and ensure that any problems in your mouth are identified and dealt with in a timely manner to avoid more expensive treatment later.


If preventive measures are not taken, cavities may develop in your teeth. In general, one cavity filling costs around $225. If a cavity extends to pulp, the tooth may require root canal therapy costing $600 - $1,000 (depends upon number of canals). This amount is more than $225, not to mention more damage to the tooth, pain, suffering, infection and anxiety.


If you or your spouse has dental insurance, it may cover 50% - 100% of the dental treatment costing you nothing (limiting your cost to the insurance premiums paid). The only thing you have to do is to have regular checkup every 6 months.


If you don’t have dental insurance, you can use your credit card to pay for the dental treatment. The chances are the cost of recommended dental treatment is significantly lower than your credit limit. This is an investment in your health which is more important than the latest electronic gadget you plan to purchase although the one you already have is working perfectly fine.


2. I can’t afford Root Canal Therapy, Implant or Denture to save/keep the tooth. I’m in lot of pain and would like the troubling tooth extracted. Moreover, I have other teeth and/or the area of extracted tooth is not visible to others:

You also have multiple fingers and toes. Do/Would you chop off an unhealthy finger/toe that can be saved or cured simply because you have other fingers or toes? Of course, not! Then why treat your teeth differently? All teeth in your mouth are there and placed the way they are because you need them. Extraction may seem fast and economical way out of pain. However, not replacing the extracted teeth can have serious health consequences in the long run including diminished chewing, compromised esthetics, and other health issues.


A study[1] found that having 9 or more unreplaced teeth was associated with increased risk of death even after adjustment for other factors such as age, gender, income, education, marital status, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia. This alone is pretty good reason to keep your teeth or to replace them regardless of the cost. Just for fun, you can google “periodontal disease, systemic disease, longevity” and explore the results.


3. I have to check with my spouse:


In many families, financial and health decisions are made by more than one family member. It’s a good idea to take the decision maker with you so that they can also understand the treatment recommended, reasons for doing so and the consequences of not following through. At Dentistry on Queenston, we recommend the decision maker - patient’s spouse, parent, child, guardian or caretaker, to accompany the patient.


4. I need to think about it, I’m really busy right now and have no time for it, I have to go to work, vacation (or some other version of this):


You should schedule your dental appointment when it is most convenient for you based on your schedule while understanding the need and importance of the appointment. If the recommended treatment or the reasons for it are not clear, you should ask your dentist again. Going on a vacation or to an important event/place with an aching tooth is a recipe to ruin that trip.


5. I hate needles and drills in my mouth, or I or someone I know had not a great experience in the past:


This is probably the most common real reason why many people don’t like to see their dentist. You should express your fears and concerns to your dentist. Also, your dentist and his/her team want you to have a comfortable appointment. A hygienist does not use any drills or needles to clean your teeth. Where a needle is required to freeze your mouth, topical gel, laughing gas and other methods are used to make it comfortable so that it doesn’t feel more than a pinch. After freezing, you don’t feel drills, needles or pain in your mouth.


Before you miss/postpone/cancel/not schedule your dentist appointment next time, you should ask, “Do I want to keep my teeth?” Based on the information above, the answer should be “Yes” regardless of everything else!

[1] Schwahn, C. et al, “Missing, unreplaced teeth and risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality”, International Journal of Cardiology, Volume 167, Issue 4, Pages 1430-1437 - https://www.internationaljournalofcardiology.com/article/S0167-5273(12)00482-2/fulltext

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Hamilton, ON L8G 1A3

T: 905-561-7310

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