Risks of Delaying Dental Treatment

Modern health care has been spectacular in the last 100 years. Modern antibiotics (penicillin) was not available until around WW II. This fact sometimes lulls us into a false sense of security that what ever happens we are just a “pill” away from a cure. In addition, most of the time, we believe that pain or discomfort is an absolute sign that some pathology or disease is going on. This is true for the vast majority of life’s illnesses except for the “silent illnesses”. Dental disease, like certain types cancers have minor or no symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly. In the dental field when the patient complains of pain… in many instances… we may be looking at a root canal or extracting the tooth.

Our dental office has seen over the last week several patients who have delayed dental treatment. The reason given include:

  • Severe dental anxiety
  • Financial problems
  • Time issues… their life is just too busy
  • It does not bother me… it does not hurt
  • Other

This week our dental office is treating a dental phobic whose dental treatment went from a couple thousand dollars to 11 thousand dollars. Delaying treatment was not in the patient’s best interest. What can we (you) do?

Severe dental anxiety

Many dentists can help the severe dental phobic obtain treatment. These ways include but are not limited to:

  • General anesthesia in a hospital setting
  • I.V. Sedation in the dental office with a dental anesthesiologist
  • Oral pre-medication
  • Nitrous oxide/oxygen
  • Local anesthesia

Financial options/difficulties

Many but not all dentists provide financial options including Care Credit to help make treatment more affordable on a monthly basis. Care Credit is one of many such businesses that provide financial services to dental patients

Time issues

Many dental office (like our) provide extended hour of operation and certainly call those in you area would be appropriate.

In addition, many dentists “block book” to maximize treatment in the available time. This provides for treatment in as few appointments as we can arrange. It is not uncommon for a patient with a substantial amount of dental work to do to plan an morning at the dentist. Frequently ,but not always we can get “most” of your treatment completed.

It does not bother me… it does not hurt.

I think most dentists have found this to be the most difficult one to deal with. Some patients just want to delay treatment because it does not hurt. For “many” their dental health does not deteriorate rapidly. For some that is not the case. The problem is we can’t accurately identify those who will break down rapidly versus those who are on a gradual decline. Certainly, home care (brushing and flossing) along with diet and fluoride helps tremendously. For those with rapid decline… there are protocols that mitigate the response but we cannot predict to what level.

Catching a problem early is much easier to deal with than waiting for the problem to occur. Dentist can preserve more tooth structure (tooth banking) if the tooth is treated earlier in most cases. As a general rule … the more tooth you have left … the better your prognosis.

Our recommendations for most patients is… get your dental work done sooner that later. It is in your best interest.

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