|Photo by BRENDA MICHELLE (Flickr)|
The origins of National Toothache Day remain shrouded in mystery according to timeanddate.com but the guess is it was a dentist who started it, and he or she probably had good reason to. According to the World Health Organization Oral Health Fact-sheet, 60 to 90 percent of children and 100 percent of adults have dental cavities. However, in the United States only 52.4 percent of adults in the United States reported visiting a dentist every six months in 2014, 15.4 percent reported visiting once every year and another 11 percent reported visiting once every two to three years. That means 21.2 percent of adults had not visited a dentist in at least three years, according to the American Dental Association Patient Statistics.
More than that plan on continuing that trend as well, as 22.9 percent of adults indicated they are either unsure or definitely do not plan to visit a dentist in the next 12 months. The top reasons for not going include cost (which 40.7 percent of people said), not needing dental care (at least, that is what they think, at 32.7 percent), and not having time to get to the dentist (which 14.7 percent of people said) according to numbers from the ADA.
Children are getting slightly better treatment, as 83 percent of children in the United States aged 2-17 had at least one dental visit in the past year. However, 17.5 percent of children aged 5-19 years have untreated tooth decay 27.4 adults had untreated tooth decay.
Untreated tooth decay can lead to a number of problems. A personal friend recently had all of his teeth surgically removed. He had not been to a dentist for three years and his mouth was too far gone to save. He is getting dentures, but the process will not be cheap. Without insurance the costs of the procedure would have exceeded $10,000.
Even though that is an extreme situation, it does prove the idiom in this case that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". I have personally skipped dental appointments before and it only leads to more pain and cost than I would have otherwise incurred had I just continued regular dental appointments. Keep in mind I do brush my teeth regularly.
The chart in the Action for Dental Health: Bringing Disease Prevention into Communities from the ADA shows the cost of preventive measures versus the cost of more extreme options when prevention is taken. It is obvious that although prevention may cost money, foregoing it can cost more.
The lesson learned is to take the time to see a dentist, keep your teeth taken care of, and make regular appointments. Yes, it takes time, and it can take money, but the consequences can be worse. Try not to neglect home care including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day as recommended by the ADA. A clean dental bill of health is possible, but not if you do not see your dental provider. If you do not have a dentist, ask your insurance provider or use the Mouth Healthy directory to find an ADA member dentist near you.
Learn about the author: Parker Jones