Have I left my dental care until it is too late?

Sometimes people allow their dental health to drop to a low point.

It might be fear of the dentist that has kept them away. Some have not found a dentist they feel safe with. It might be that they are working so hard or caring for so many other people that regular visits to the dentist have become impossible – before you know it years have passed since the last check up and clean. It could be dental care is low on the list of priorities, and it has taken a few painful problems to bring them to the dentist. . . 

Whatever the reason, if you find that your dental health has become poor, the process of recovery can seem like a long and arduous climb up a treacherous mountain path. Just too hard to even contemplate. 

If this has happened to you (or someone you know) it is crucial to not let feelings of overwhelm, panic, giving up or guilt take over – these are the emotions that can make you delay treatment even further or make you rush into making poor and regrettable decisions.

At this time, the development of a simple and structured plan is the key to restoring the health of your mouth and your body . . .  

The steps to restoring your dental health.

  • Find a general dentist you trust.  This is the person who will walk beside you on the path back to good dental health. You want to find the dentist who listens to your concerns (crucial) and does not make you feel guilty, silly or neglectful (not helpful).

  • Attend to pain as a priority.  You cannot make clear decisions when you are hurting. Do not reactively get potentially important teeth pulled out just because you want the pain to stop. Before you have developed a comprehensive plan, keep your options open.     Once the pain has been managed. . .

  • Formulate a plan.  This breaks down the overall goal into a simpler, step-by-step approach. It allows small and empowering achievements to be made along the way.

  • Specialist care might be needed.  If your situation is complex, specialist expertise will be of the greatest value. Referrals and communication will be coordinated by the general dentist and their staff. 

  • Be honest with your dentist about costs.  If you cannot afford to complete the whole plan let the dentist know. Do not give up and walk away. Some plans can be adjusted to allow you more time. Or develop a payment plan with the dentist and their office coordinator.

  • Focus on each step of the plan and complete it.  Stopping halfway on any step is not going to get you to your final goal. 

  • Communicate with your general dentist.  Open communication is essential to successful outcomes in dental care. If you need clarification on any points don’t hold back thinking you ‘should’ know. This is true at any stage of your dental care plan. If you are not sure about something, ask.

There are two points that are so important they deserve their own special mention:

Do not resist seeing a specialist.  More times than I can recall in my dental career I have been asked “can’t you do it….please?” If a general dentist suggests that you see a specialist, it is always for a very good reason. 

We refer because we want you to get the correct treatment from the outset.

Specialists not only provide high value care, they also offer valuable insights about risks and outcomes that will benefit you in the long term. 

This is the time to adjust your lifestyle and start to take good care of your dental health.

You are the ‘hub’ in the ‘wheel’ of your return to health.

No one can do this part for you. The best of plans, carried out by the best of dentists and specialists will fail if you do not apply the fundamentals of good self-care.

  • Seek support if you need to quit smoking, 

  • Reduce your alcohol intake,

  • Reduce your sugar intake. This includes the obvious lollies, sweet biscuits and soft drinks, but don’t forget to include fruit, and fruit juice, sports drinks, all forms of bread and breakfast cereals in your sugar count,

  • Seek medical support if you have sleep apnoea or gastric reflux,

  • Use floss, interdental brushes, water flossers and your toothbrush as directed, every day.

The best day to start your path of return to good dental and whole-body health is today. Take the steps to get your mouth into good health and the health of your whole body will benefit more than you can imagine.​

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