Not everyone goes to the dentist like they should, and many children and families haven’t seen a dentist in years, which can lead to significant health issues.
According to the National Academies, millions of Americans are not receiving needed dental care services because of “persistent and systemic” barriers that limit their access to oral health care.
The report says that economic, structural, geographic and cultural factors contribute to this problem. For example, approximately 33.3 million people live in areas with shortages of dental health professionals. In 2008, 4.6 million children did not obtain needed dental care because their families could not afford it. And in 2006, only 38 percent of retirees had dental coverage, a benefit not covered by Medicare.
Lack of regular oral health care has serious consequences, the report says, including increased risk of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as inappropriate use of hospital emergency departments for preventable dental diseases. The report offers a vision of oral health care in which prevention of oral diseases and promotion of oral health are a priority and a facet of overall health.
If you are selling dental plans as part of your product portfolio, or are considering offering it to your employees, it helps to know why people need good dental care.
Here are the Top Ten Reasons for Getting Your Smile in Good Shape:
1. To Prevent Oral Cancer–According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer, every hour of every day in the United States alone. When you have your dental cleaning, your dentist is also screening you for oral cancer, which is highly curable if diagnosed early.
2. To Prevent Gum Disease—Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place and is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. If diagnosed early, it can be treated and reversed. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage of gum disease may follow. Regular dental cleanings and check ups, flossing daily and brushing twice a day are key factors in preventing gum disease.
3. To Maintain Overall Good Physical Health—Recent studies have linked heart attacks and strokes to gum disease, resulting from poor oral hygiene. A dental cleaning every six months helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy and could possibly reduce your risk of heart disease and strokes.
4. To Keep your Teeth—Since gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults, regular dental check-ups and cleanings, brushing and flossing are vital to keeping as many teeth as you can. Keeping your teeth means better chewing function and ultimately, better health.
5. To Detect Dental Problems Early—Your dentist and hygienist will be able to detect any early signs of problems with your teeth or gums. Early detection of cavities, broken fillings and gum disease are easily treatable. If these problems go untreated, root canals, gum surgery and removal of teeth could become the only treatment options available.
6. To Maintain Good Oral Health—Your dental hygienist will help to ensure that you are maintaining your good oral health by visual examination and comparing your previous dental check-ups. If you are falling off track with your oral hygiene, your hygienist will help put you back on the right path.
7. To Use Your Dental Plan—Dental insurance plans usually pay for all or most of the cost of dental cleanings and check-ups every six months. Take advantage of this and save a lot of money in the long run by avoiding costly dental procedures that can result from poor oral hygiene. If you can’t afford insurance, get a discount dental plan for a few dollars a month, and you will pay a vastly reduced cost for the procedures. Even if the cleaning isn’t free, it’s cheap with a discount plan. It is more expensive later on if you don’t take care of these preventive items up front.
8. To Create a Plan for Treatment—If your dentist diagnoses any problems in your mouth, he will most likely give you a treatment plan. This treatment plan should have the cost of each procedure that you will need, so that you can discuss financial arrangements with the front office.
9. To Have a White, Bright Smile—Your dental hygienist can remove most tobacco, coffee and tea stains. During your cleaning, your hygienist will also polish your teeth to a beautiful shine. The result? A whiter and brighter smile!
10. To Prevent Bad Breath—Dental studies show that about 85 percent of people with persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, have a dental problem that is to blame. Good oral hygiene is essential in preventing bad breath. Regular check-ups and cleanings are the best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene.
Having a great smile may open more doors for you, but it also helps keep you healthy once you get inside. Preventive dental work is essential for your health, and your teeth and gums will thank you for it over and over. Make the most of your smile. It’s the only one you have.