You may have heard the phrase, “I’m going to ‘back burner’ that.” Or, you may use it yourself.
Generally, to ‘back burner’ something means to delay it until… well, until it becomes more urgent. Unfortunately, the urgency that occurs when dental care is delayed or avoided can quickly move things to the front burner that’s quickly at the boiling point.
What’s keeping many people away from the dental office?
In 2018, the publication Dental Products Report shared the results of a study by a market research company, over 60% of the 18,000 polled admitted to having dental fear. Four percent shared they had never gone to a dentist as a result.
Of the respondents, 39% stated they were afraid of pain with 24 and 21 percent (respectively) citing smells in the dentist’s office and sound of the drill. Less than 5% shared they were afraid of the dental bill.
People often feel that oral health problems suddenly arise. Yet, most individuals slowly develop these problems due to …
– Insufficient oral hygiene
– Avoiding regular dental check-ups and cleanings
– Ignoring symptoms of gum disease, such as seeing blood in the sink when brushing
– Brushing too rigorously or using abrasive substances to brush
– Age-related problems, such as oral dryness
– Oral dryness due to snoring or sinus problems
– Eating a high-carb diet or snacking frequently
– Smoking (including cigarettes, vaping, marijuana, and chew)
– Regular alcohol consumption
Certainly, some people are merely more susceptible to dental decay and bacterial buildup in the mouth. It can be due to genetics or some illnesses and diseases. Yet, the majority of reasons for having oral problems can be dealt with through proper at-home care and having regular dental exams.
Often, when signs and symptoms associated with oral problems emerge, they have existed for awhile. For example, having persistent bad breath is typically a symptom of gum disease. However, people tend to ignore this; some not acknowledging just how BAD their breath is while others assume their “coffee mouth” is to blame.
When certain things are put on the back burner, such as doing a load of laundry, it’s not a big deal. It’ll get done with minimal consequences. When health problems, including those in the “oral cavity” are delayed, the consequences are far greater.
At our Shelby Two dental office, we believe that an informed patient is a healthier patient. Understanding what can lead to problems and how to prevent them (or respond quickly to them) helps patients avoid the progression of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
First, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease:
Gums that bleed easily
Red, swollen, tender gums
Persistent bad breath
Gums that pull away from the teeth (recede)
Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting
Changes in the fit of partial dentures
Permanent teeth that loosen or separate
When any of these emerge, prompt treatment can minimize treatment time and costs. However, ignoring the warning signs merely allows the disease to progress further – requiring more time in treatment and greater expense.
For the individual who has high anxiety or fear associated with dental visits, how are they supposed to set aside these obstacles in order to receive the dental care they need? Obviously, problems in the mouth can easily exacerbate when the signs and symptoms of gum disease are back-burnered.
In addition to the related problems of cavities, bad breath and tooth loss, the inflammatory bacteria of gum disease can impact overall health. Years of studies have found frightening correlations between oral bacteria and the worsening or development of serious diseases.
Because gum tissues are weakened by inflammation, they tear easily. Thus, the infectious bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, these bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere. Research has shown links between the bacteria of gum disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED) and even Alzheimer’s disease.
That’s scary stuff. And bolsters the many reasons to make good dental health a priority. Knowing this, can you get past experiencing jitters or worse in order to have the dental care you need?
In over 25 years as a dentist, we have helped hundreds of adults get past these feelings in order to achieve a healthy, confident smile. Some of these patients once feared even walking into a dental office and now have smiles they love to share. Although we have oral and IV sedation available, many patients relax so much in our hands that they no longer need/want a sedative.
There’s no magic to helping someone get past dental fear or anxiety. It’s actually a normal reaction of the brain’s “fight or flight” response. Like some people have an intense fear of spiders or heights, their reactions are built in. Yet, in many cases, our care helps to override these responses. For some, they may always have these feelings but can set them aside based upon their trust in treating them gently and respectfully.
If you (or someone you know) deal with challenges that pose risks to your oral and overall health, please begin with two small steps.
First, watch a brief video where I’ll share an introduction to our approach to helping patients with dental fears at: DrBarbatComfort
Then, download a simple, but helpful, “Guide” that may help you go to the next step, which is to schedule a private, no charge consultation. You can tap here or call our friendly staff at 586-739-2155.
Your smile is worth the care, as is your health. Let us help you make your oral health a “front burner” priority!