In recent years, dental emergencies have constituted around 2.1 million of the nation’s emergency room visits. Periodontal health struggles are a silent epidemic; so many are affected, yet so few are talking about it. We don’t want you to suffer in silence any longer, so we’re stepping up to the plate. Let’s talk about the hard stuff, like why so many people neglect their dental health, what the consequences are and how you can turn things around when they’ve gone too far.
We get it; it’s hard to keep up with your dental health. Maybe you just forget, or the dentist makes you nervous, or flossing is a hassle. Whatever the reason, we recognize that being on top of your dental hygiene can be a real burden. However, the benefits of putting in the extra effort are astronomical, and we’ll be talking about how to make it easy.
For many, it comes down to financials. In fact, 80% of people neglect the financial burden of routine dental care, even though they know it will end up costing them. For many, this comes down to prioritizing health insurance over dental coverage. Research by the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) has found that those who have dental coverage are far more likely to seek routine care for themselves and their children, but many people don’t feel that they can afford it. In fact, 23% of the population – that’s double the percentage of people who lack medical coverage – are living without dental benefits. When faced with these realities and with the price of dental care, it’s natural to feel that you have no options other than to skip out on routine visits and hope for the best. We’re here to teach you that there are always other options, and the payoff from keeping up with your oral health far outweighs the long-term costs of neglecting it.
To fix a problem, you first need to name it. You might be wondering: what even constitutes “poor” periodontal health? Let’s talk about a few basic “do’s” and “don’ts.”
At the most basic level, you should be brushing and flossing your teeth twice per day. First, brush in the morning when you wake up, getting rid of all the bacteria that has accumulated in your mouth throughout the night. Then, before bed, clean out all the food particles that have gathered between the nooks and crannies in your teeth throughout the day. If you want to get really fancy with it, you could add an extra brush in after you eat lunch. And don’t forget to scrub your tongue! On top of everyday hygiene, you should also be seeing your dentist once every 6 months (that’s twice per year).
We know it can be tempting to avoid routine check-ups, but regular dental visits are essential for your dentist to keep up to date on the status of your dental health, to remove any plaque that has gathered on your teeth since your last visit and to catch any health problems early. Don’t skip out on the dentist, and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
One of the most common missteps in people’s oral hygiene routines is neglecting to floss, and it can have big consequences. Flossing helps to reach the places your toothbrush cannot, and it prevents bacteria from hiding in between your teeth. We know it’s tempting; resist the urge to skip flossing and you’ll be better for it.
When motivating ourselves to practice good habits, it can help to remember the consequences of failing to do so. Let’s talk about the costs of neglecting your periodontal health.
The most evident consequence of poor oral hygiene is damage to your teeth. As you eat and drink throughout the day, starches and sugars interact with the bacteria in your mouth. This interaction leads to the formation of plaque. Though brushing and flossing removes plaque, it is quick to re-form. If plaque isn’t regularly removed through good oral hygiene, it will harden under the gum line and form tartar, which is much harder to remove and is packed with bacteria. The only one who can remove tartar from your teeth is a dentist, so if you skip your regular visit, the tartar will linger under your gums. The longer the tartar stays on your teeth and in your gums, the more likely it is to develop into gingivitis.
Gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, causes an inflammation of the gum line. Gingivitis can be reversed through a combination of dental treatment and at-home care. However, if you neglect to pursue treatment, pockets will form between your gums and teeth, which will then fill with plaque, tartar and bacteria. This process leads to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. If periodontitis isn’t treated promptly, it will cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, infecting tissue and bone in your mouth. Eventually, this will lead to tooth loss. Poor oral health practices can literally cost you your teeth.
Believe it or not, the consequences of poor oral health are not contained to your mouth. In fact, oral health has been identified as one of the 10 leading indicators of overall health. The mouth is the entryway to the rest of the body; neglecting it can exacerbate a cascade of other health issues, from diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the known health issues associated with poor periodontal health include:
Believe it or not, periodontal disease can kill brain cells. When the gums become inflamed, bacteria and inflammatory molecules can travel through the bloodstream and into the brain. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) performed by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that older adults with signs of gum disease were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
Because gum disease leads to elevated blood sugar, it can lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Once a patient develops diabetes, they are more susceptible to infection. Periodontal disease can exacerbate this problem by releasing bacteria into the bloodstream, making diabetes more difficult to manage.
The bacteria produced by infected gums can be breathed into the lungs, increasing the likelihood of a respiratory infection. Gum disease can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis, among other respiratory issues. This is especially essential to address during the COVID-19 pandemic, in which maintaining respiratory health has become more important than ever.
Rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease have one essential thing in common: inflammation. Gum disease increases inflammation throughout the whole body, and According to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, gum disease makes one 4 times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Your thoughts and feelings run your world. The way we feel about ourselves can dictate the way we carry ourselves, the things we do, and opportunities we pursue. Poor oral health can lead to poor self-image, which can have a cascade of negative effects throughout one’s entire way of life. In fact, according to a report by the American Dental Association (ADA), 38% of people feel that life is less satisfying due to poor dental health. When our oral health suffers, our mental health suffers, with 1 in 5 adults experiencing anxiety and 1 in 4 adults avoiding smiling due to the condition of their teeth. One’s oral health can even affect their social lives, as many adults avoid social activities due to the condition of their teeth. Though it may not seem like it, practicing good oral habits is akin to practicing self-care. You deserve to feel good about your smile.
Adults aren’t the only ones who suffer from poor oral hygiene. Dental care starts in childhood; if you don’t practice healthy habits as a kid, it can be hard to develop them later in life. However, many parents struggle to provide adequate dental care for their children. Whether due to inability to pay, the child’s resistance to at-home hygiene or some other factor, early childhood tooth decay is alarmingly common. Dental neglect in childhood can have far-reaching ramifications. Beyond setting up unhealthy habits, this can lead to developmental, educational and behavioral struggles; family stress; and diminished quality of life. Investment in oral health is an investment in your children and family.
One of the most glaring costs of poor periodontal hygiene is the literal cost to your bank account. While routine dental visits can be an annoying expense, they’re nothing to the cost to treat dental disease. As we’ve mentioned above, periodontal disease can lead to inflammation, tooth decay and even tooth loss. Restorative procedures to fix these problems can cost anywhere from $600 to $40,000. Brush and floss daily, eat healthy and go to the dentist regularly to avoid these pricey consequences.
If you’ve found yourself facing the costs of poor oral hygiene, you’re not out of options. At San Antonio Periodontics & Implants, our team is trained in managing the effects of periodontal disease. We offer a variety of services, from bone grafting to All-On-4, and we’re committed to developing a treatment plan that mitigates the costs we’ve mentioned above. We can help to restore your smile, minimize health complications and reinstate your self-esteem. When it comes to finances, our expert team can help you to navigate through insurance options and connect you to a variety of payment options, including CareCredit financing, with which you can pay monthly for treatments and procedures. You don’t need to struggle in silence; contact us or call 210.824.0111 to get started on your journey toward a healthier smile and a happier life.
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