How many times have you gotten the news from your dentist that you'll need a dental procedure that requires a significant out of pocket expense? In addition to the expense, you fear that the treatment is going to be painful and time consuming. It doesn't currently bother you, so why not wait until it starts to hurt or becomes too unsightly? Maybe you feel you're being sold something you don't really need. I call these barriers to receiving dental care the "The Three F's"; fear, finances and faulty thinking.
Fear is easily handled with the technological improvements that enhance how we render care. The dream of painless injections and dental procedures are reality for those who show up. I have seen patients who have endured very high levels pain while prolonging a visit; pain that far exceeds any discomfort felt during treatment. I have witnessed the results of delayed care leading to the development of life threating conditions. Amazing, the power of fear!
For some, the issue of obtaining dental care is associated with the lack of insurance. Often, the patient allows the dental insurance company to dictate their decisions. The average treatment need usually exceeds the annual dental maximums, which haven't increased in over thirty years. Successful, healthy patients value their teeth over their insurance.
As a cancer survivor, I never considered asking my physician to remove only a portion of my tumor; leaving the rest until my insurance "re-ups" the following year. My overall health and survival were being threatened. My goal was to get rid of the source and adhere to a strict preventive schedule. It's really no different with dental care.
So, where does this leave the average patient? The average patient is left with the need to assume more personal responsibility for his own health. Fortunately, many dental practices offer in house or third party financing services to assist their patients in obtaining the care they need and deserve.
Understand that your oral health is directly related to your overall health; and due to the importance of this alone, every effort should be made to improve it. When decay and disease is taken care of, once and for all, you can adopt home care habits that will keep you in the preventive mode and out of the defensive mode.
Dr. Karen Mills
123 Marble Mill Road, Suite A,
Marietta, Georgia 30060
Dr. Karen Mills practices general and cosmetic dentistry since 1992. She is a 1987 graduate of Howard University's College of Dentistry.