Many Middle-Aged People Are Embarrassed About Their Teeth
A recent survey has found that a third of Americans aged between 50 and 64 are embarrassed about the state of their teeth. Slightly more than this figure has difficulty with eating, have experienced dental pain. They have missed work or have had other health problems within the last two years. Some 40% of those surveyed failed to get regular preventative dental care including regular cleanings.
Apparently, a lack of insurance is a significant factor in this lack of dental care. Just over a quarter of those polled do not have dental coverage. This figure was much higher, at 56%, amongst those who do not seek regular preventative dental care. It includes those who only see the dentist when they develop serious dental problems. The future doesn’t look any less bleak.
This is because just over half of those surveyed have no idea how they will get dental insurance coverage after the age of 65. Another 13% of middle-aged adults expect to rely on Medicaid or Medicare to cover their dental care needs after that age. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t tend to cover routine dental care and dental coverage with Medicaid is often very limited.
Researchers are concerned that this highlights a real need to improve access to dental care and to insurance options after age 65. Out of those people surveyed, more than three quarters agreed regular preventative dental care is important. More than 40% did not focus on preventative dental care. This importance has been highlighted by numerous research studies showing the connection between good dental health and good general health.
One major cause of concern is gum disease. It is a preventable condition that without treatment can frequently lead to tooth loss and which can also negatively affect general health. Gum disease has been connected with numerous common health conditions that include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and respiratory diseases.
This is why you simply cannot afford to take the chance of developing this disease and potentially worsening your general health. Preventative dental care is particularly important for people who have existing health conditions.
Why You Need Healthy Gums
Good gum care is essential because healthy gums provide a barrier between your mouth and your body. Healthy gums fit tightly around your teeth, creating a seal that prevents bacteria from the mouth getting into your body. If you have unhealthy gums then this seal is broken because your gums will begin to bleed and to pull away from your teeth, allowing bacteria to get into your body.
Once they get into your bloodstream, these bacteria have free passage virtually anywhere in the body and have even been discovered in the brain. Wherever they travel, they can potentially create new sites of inflammation. This can worsen any existing health conditions and increase your risk of developing new health problems.
Why a Preventative Approach Saves Money
It can be difficult to find the money for regular checkups and cleanings. A preventative approach does help to keep costs lower in the longer term. Additionally, maintaining a good preventative dental care regime will help to protect general health. This can also help to reduce medical bills, so even if money is tight, it is well worth trying to budget for preventative dental care not covered by insurance.
Good ongoing dental care is very important for people with existing dental problems such as periodontal disease or gum disease. One study found that by receiving regular periodontal treatment, patients with diabetes could reduce their medical care costs by $1418 annually. Those patients at risk of stroke could see that figure reduce by $10,142. For cardiovascular disease, the potential cost savings were $647.
Also, the cost of seeing a dentist for a checkup and for a hygiene appointment is generally quite affordable. It can provide peace of mind when you receive a clean bill of health.
Why a Preventative Approach Could Save Your Life
Each year nearly 40,000 people in the United States alone will be diagnosed with oral cancer and around 8000 will die. Unfortunately, oral cancer rates are increasing and a late diagnosis frequently carries a poor long-term prognosis. When you visit your dentist for preventative dental care that includes a checkup, you will also receive regular screenings for oral cancer.
These screenings are very quick and non-invasive. They simply involve a detailed examination of the oral tissues which includes inside your cheeks, your gums, your lips, and the roof and floor of your mouth and your tongue. Your dentist is looking for any small changes that require further investigation. This may include changes to the color or texture of these tissues, any thickening or lumps, and bumps, or any mouth sores that aren’t healing properly.
Generally, if you have a mouth sore that fails to heal after a couple of weeks then it’s a great idea to see your dentist for an examination. If your dentist does see anything wrong then they can normally take a tiny sample of cells using a specialized brush. A brush biopsy simply involves brushing the suspicious surface to collect the cells so it’s a quick and non-invasive test that shouldn’t be too expensive.
Once you have good oral health it is relatively easy to maintain with good oral care at home and with regular professional dental care.
There is no substitute for visiting your dentist regularly because they are trained to pick up the very slightest signs that anything is wrong with your dental health. They usually do so well before you are aware anything is wrong.
Dentists are also great educators and will help you understand your dental health so you can maintain it more easily. If you do struggle with the costs of regular preventative dental care, it is worth talking to your local dental office. Many have repayment schemes or might even have their own health schemes offering an easy and affordable way to access excellent quality dental care whenever you need it.
If you have any dental insurance, they can also advise you which services are covered and which might leave you with out-of-pocket expenses so you can budget accordingly.