Without proper dental care, you expose yourself to significant risks that can negatively impact your overall health and well-being. Thus, it is crucial to make regular visits to the dentist a priority in order to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Let’s talk some analogies

You take your car into the tire store, they tell you there is a nail in your tire. What do you do? Leave without repairing it? No, you get the tire repaired. Why? So you’re not stranded on the side of the road! Do you value strong tires?

You take your car into the tire store for new tires. The tire store won’t put on new tires without doing an alignment. Why? Because they want their tires to last as long as possible. It isn’t optional to have new tires put on without an alignment. You should want your tires to last as long as possible too. Do you value the money you’re spending on the new tires?

You go to your medical doctor for a check up. He/she finds a disease and tells you what it’s going to take to treat the disease. What do you do? Do you say “,thanks Doc, I’ll think about it? Or, I’ll get back to you on that, I have a lot going on right now?” Do you value your health? Of course you do. You ask ”when can we get started”.
These are just a few analogies about our value systems. It is interesting the disconnect that takes place between patient and their dental health. Dr. Gilmore will take x-rays and photos that bring a patient and their dental disease face to face and yet they will say, “I’ll think about it”, “I’ve got a lot going on right now, I’ll call when I’m ready”, “I have a vacation coming up”, “I’ll need to think about it, I can’t afford it.”

Though we sympathize with financial constraints and that dental benefits are NOT “insurance”. They do not insure you against extensive treatment needs like your medical benefit does, or your car insurance or your homeowners. However, regardless of the lack of coverage, we also know that most people will afford their wants and go as far as to finance their wants. We will do this for what we value.

The question becomes what do you value about your oral health. Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your health. If there is inflammation and disease in your mouth, there will be inflammation and disease elsewhere in the body Inflammation of your oral tissues has been linked to other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Unchecked inflammation has long term destructive ramifications.

Decay is also a disease. Your mouth has billions of bacteria in it. The bacteria feeds off of sugars and food substances left on the surface of your teeth. The bacteria then secretes acid onto the enamel of your teeth, eventually getting through the enamel causing a cavity. If not arrested, the cavity will continue to get larger and deeper until possibly reaching the dentin (soft part) of your tooth structure.
This could cause great pain and will require a root canal and crown.

Amalgam (mercury) fills that have been used to repair teeth with decay expand and contract with temperature changes. The contraction allows for the bacteria in your saliva to get under the filling, eventually forming decay. Even though the decay “isn’t bothering you”, it’s still causing destruction.

Pain is the last symptom that something is terribly wrong.
Let’s talk about another analogy, cancer.

I would venture to say you know someone who found out they had cancer either from pain that just appeared out of nowhere or when they had an unrelated event occur, let’s say a broken bone. They most likely lived with cancer for years before being diagnosed. It is also highly likely that they lived with cancer without pain for an extensive period of time. Again, you should never wait for pain to be
the symptom before you treat diagnosed dental disease. At that point, treatment will be more extensive, expensive or possible catastrophic failure.

Contrary to what you might believe (“he just wants a new boat or a new car”), I don’t want to find disease in your mouth. It isn’t pretty and it smells terrible. I wish I could create a scratch and sniff sticker that smells like the underneath portion of an old amalgam filling or old crown. Decay has a stench, like anything else that is decaying. I pray for perfect oral health for my patients. The patients that delay treatment are the ones that keep me up at night with worry. Often, they just want to get their cleanings and forgo treatment, putting it off for whatever justification.

As a provider who took an oath to do no harm, I cannot ethically and morally watch my hygienists clean disease. I cannot watch my patients neglect their oral health and ask me to watch it. My patients can opt not to do treatment, but I also can opt to say “I’m not the dentist for you.” There are excellent single tooth dentists who will let you take as long as you need to treat the disease in your mouth, I cannot do that. Why? Because I see daily the consequences of neglect. Tooth loss that did not need to occur. Teeth I could have saved and kept them healthy for patients for the rest of their life. Your teeth play such an incredibly important role. You use them to smile, breath, chew and communicate. I ask myself daily why people don’t value dentists or their oral health more than they do. My goal is to work with patients to achieve optimal oral health.