There are many reasons people don’t go to the dentist. However, in my many years as a dentist, I’ve found three to be most prevalent: (1) their dental health has been put on the back burner, (2) they are embarrassed to go to the dentist because it’s been so long or (3) they’re unsure where to go.
If you’ve been concerned about your dental health, or haven’t been to the dentist in more than three years, the best time to start is now. The sooner you start, the sooner your dental health will return to good standing.
Below are three steps that will help get you back on track.
Step 1: Find a Reputable Dentist
I emphasize seeing someone reputable because in order to regain your dental health, you need to see someone who can help you develop the right strategy to address your unique dental situation.
You can find a reputable dentist through online testimonials, Google searches, Yelp or word of mouth. Reading a dentist’s online reviews will give you a pretty good idea of other people’s experiences.
Step 2: Make the Right Appointment
Typically, someone who hasn’t been to the dentist in a long time will say they need a cleaning or they need to be seen because they are in pain. However, a dental appointment for a patient who hasn’t seen the dentist in six years may be quite different than that of a patient who comes in every six months.
With that said, it’s important to share certain information when making your dental appointment. Share how long it’s been since you’ve seen a dentist and any issues have you’ve noticed. It’s also helpful to give a brief explanation of your dental history so the office has a full picture of your dental health.
Remember, the type of appointment booked will be based on the information you give them, so be honest. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Step 3: Establish a Plan and Prioritize
The most important thing to get your dental health back on track is to establish a treatment plan to correct any problems you might have. It’s important to find a reputable dentist you can trust, as he or she will be responsible for establishing this plan based on your needs and financial considerations.
Typically, this plan will address your treatment in three phases:
(1) Things that needed to be done yesterday
(2) Things that need to be done within one to two years
(3) Things that would be nice to do once the others are taken care of (whitening, straightening, veneers, etc.).
This plan can be addressed little by little over several years. The important thing is that you continue to move in the right direction and address your most pressing needs first.
This is difficult for some patients, as they are more concerned about how their teeth look than how they are functioning. However, I remind them that you don’t want to shine a fender when it’s about to fall off. The same is true of your teeth – mechanical issues are far more important than straightening and whitening.
Further, if you spend money addressing the lower priority items and then can’t afford to spend on the top priorities, you could find yourself in a worse situation – having spent more money than you would have if you had focused on fixing the problems in the right order.
Maybe you’re ready to go to the dentist, but you don’t have dental insurance. Keep in mind, dental insurance will typically only pay for $1,500 toward your dental health each year. Financing is available to help cover your treatment costs and often has a 0% interest rate if your credit is good.
If you are looking to take a step in the right direction to regain your dental health, call us at (813) 689-4226.