Florida ranked 44th in a recently published statistical study of dental wellness in the United States. Published by t, researchers compared 25 key indicators of dental wellness in the 50 states and District of Columbia. The dataset included adolescents and adults.
One of the states with the lowest percentage of adolescents seeing the dentist in the last year was Florida. One of the states with the highest percentage of adults reporting low life satisfaction due to oral health was Florida.
As a dentist, I know full well the many reasons why individuals delay dental visits until they have an oral health emergency. Many fear dental procedures. Many fear the potential expense. Many are holding out until they have employer-provided dental insurance. Many had a painful dental experience in the past. Many have been disappointed with past dental treatments not lasting. Many are embarrassed about the condition of their teeth. I get that… all of that.
What I find dismaying, though, is the number of individuals who are just lax about regular appointments. They don’t perceive the true value of keeping those appointments on a regular schedule. That’s why I wrote this month’s blog titled, Oral Health Issue Prevention Is Cheaper than Treatment.
It also concerns me that parents let teens delay appointments because of their busy lives and the teen’s dislike of going to the dentist. And, it concerns me that so many adults are willing to spend money on the latest television or smartphone but don’t invest in something so valuable and important as their oral health.
I am happy when I see patients coming back regularly for twice a year checkups and dental cleanings, because I know I can help them have a lifetime of oral health that supports their overall systemic health and I can do this as conservatively as possible. I am very happy when someone who has suffered losses in life comes to me seeking help to restore their health and smile. I will bend over backward to help them have the dentistry they need to give them a confident smile and higher quality of life.
Are you afraid of dentists? Maybe you need to experience a gentle, caring dental practice that takes time with you and doesn’t hurry you into something you are not comfortable doing.
Are you afraid you need extensive dentistry and can’t afford it? A thorough exam will reveal what your needs are and enable me to inform you about treatment options. There are many ways to treat dental conditions. Some options are not expensive and will improve your oral health and smile. Be brave and learn your options. Learn what can be achieved more affordable over time. We will fully inform you about fees before you accept treatment. Financial concerns are very normal. We discuss payment concerns with patients every day. Don’t be fearful of this conversation. We are very kind and helpful.
Are you concerned about investing in treatments that might not work? I always assure patients that I won’t recommend moving ahead with treatment unless I am confident the treatment will work, and I am very careful to consider all the factors that might make a treatment fail. I take pride in doing quality dentistry that lasts.
Are you concerned about investing in treatments you might not need? I will spend time with you to learn what your oral health goals are and what your oral health circumstances are–and I won’t recommend unnecessary treatment. I will spend time showing you images of your mouth so you can understand changes taking place. I will spend time discussing what will happen if treatment is not started and what will happen if you choose treatment. I will spend time informing you about your treatment options. I want all my patients to feel fully informed about why treatment is needed and to be involved in treatment decisions… to be ready for treatment in their minds and to partner in the treatment plan. There will never be pressure to schedule treatment you aren’t ready to do.
Are you embarrassed about your mouth? Let me assure you that you are not alone. Many patients are embarrassed about their oral health and smiles. I am one of the few dentists who has developed expertise in assisting people “in recovery” restore their oral health and smiles after the ravages of drug addiction. I have helped adults who have lost teeth for various reasons or have had severely worn-down teeth totally restore their masticatory function and have an ideally aesthetic smile. I am no stranger to whole mouth diagnosis and comprehensive treatment planning to correct multiple oral health problems. The extensive training that I have pursued at higher education institutions and the guided mentoring I have received from experts at these institutions has focused on not only solving complex oral health issues but also developing kind and respectful relationships with my patients. I am a health provider. I see you as a unique individual with your own life’s story, not as a set of teeth.
Does your teen ask you to put off scheduling their dental visit? Maybe you’re tired of picking your battles. I understand. But maintaining oral health now will give your teen the foundation for oral health in adulthood. Poor dietary and oral hygiene habits are often at a peak during the early teen years. There is a greater potential for tooth decay and additional problems to develop. Regular dental visits are a battle, I hope you pick and win. If your teen is wearing braces, feel an even greater urgency to maintain prophylactic dental cleaning appointments and checkups.
Are you busy and think you can wait for your next dental visit? Every six months is the ideal schedule for most patients to have their mouth examined and their teeth cleaned. This way, the dentist and hygienist can identify oral health problems early before they advance and require more extensive treatment. If you are undergoing treatment for gum disease or restorative dentistry, a visit within six months might be indicated, and you will be advised appropriately.
I hope to see you soon.
-Jamie J. Alexander, DDS