Put Your Teeth First
People are blaming fear and a lack of finances as reasons for neglecting their teeth, but it’s not too late to change your mindset around the all-important issue, according to a Brisbane dentist.
Dr Kristina Cain is seeing a big rise in serious dental issues because patients are simply ignoring problems in favour of lifestyle choices.
But Dr Cain said if people acted on minor mouth issues before they become major ones, it would have a positive impact on general health and wellbeing – and finances.
“Up to 50% of the population don’t attend regular preventative examination appointments and therefore end up either with big expensive work or even worse – extractions,” said Dr Cain.
“Ironically that big treatment can then put them off returning, so it’s a vicious circle. Quite frankly patients’ priorities are all wrong, dental care should be at the top of the list, not the bottom,” she said.
She is urging people to get checks on their seemingly minor teeth and mouth issues because: “they will become major, and in the long run cost you much more to fix in terms of time, money, and potentially pain.”
“People don’t have a problem servicing their car, you should get your teeth looked at just as frequently,” she said.
Dr Cain has witnessed procedures which should have cost only a few hundred dollars, blow out to up to $5000, with four sessions in a dentist’s chair instead of one.
“Who wants to pay that, and who has time for that? If you maintain your oral health, any issues are much easier to fix,” she said.
“Every day I hear ‘I can’t get afford to get my teeth fixed because of x, y and z.’ I’ve heard everything from ‘I don’t like dentists’, to ‘I’d rather get botox’, to ‘My overseas holiday is more important’, or ‘I’m saving for a house’.”
Dr Cain recently treated a patient who ignored a break in a molar which created a sharp corner on the tooth.
“He knew there was a crack, but when he finally got it checked out the corner where it had broken off was below the gum and had broken towards the nerve,” said Dr Cain.
“He needed gum surgery to access the breakage at the bottom of the root canal and a crown was needed around the tooth, otherwise he would have lost the tooth and required an implant.”
“This was a painful and very expensive procedure, which could have been rectified easily earlier in the piece.”
Dr Cain said warning signs for potentially serious dental issues included:
- A “niggle”: be conscious of pain in your tooth/teeth or lumps and bumps in your mouth. Don’t neglect something you know isn’t “right”.
- A gum that won’t heal or strange changes in mouth tissue: this can lead to gum disease or even oral cancer.
- A crack in a tooth: if this is ignored, it may have to be removed via emergency surgery.
- A hole or something black on teeth: be mindful that a dentist recommends x-rays for a reason, without x-rays an examination in not comprehensive.
- Jaw tenderness: can be a result of grinding which will get worse and wear down your teeth.
- Old injuries: like root canal work, if you are still getting pain the problem may be reoccurring.
Dr Cain, who has over 20 years’ dental experience, said many dental practices were introducing payment plans, including AfterPay, Zip Pay and Denticare.
“Money is a big part of people’s lives, but in the end long term pain will be felt in your back pocket not your mouth if you ignore dental issues,” she said.
Dr Cain said it was never too early or too late to start looking after your oral health, and recommended following these tips to keep a healthy mouth through life:
- Take good care of your oral health at home.
- Eat a healthy diet, particularly one low in sugar, avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Have a regular dental check-up.