What is Your Ounce of Prevention?

August 17, 2011 | Posted in Education

One of the greatest challenges faced in the dental profession is something of an offshoot to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Many people simply think that if there is no pain or discomfort, nothing is wrong. So why bother seeing a dentist?

On a certain level, this is understandable. Other than our annual physical or other routine medical examinations, most of us do not visit our doctor when we are feeling great. So why should we be any different with our dentist?

To answer that question, let’s focus on a key statement in the previous paragraph. We stated that “Other than our annual physical or other routine medical examinations”. Right off the bat, that tells you that the wise and healthy course of action to looking after your health is to have those examinations, even when you feel perfectly healthy.

Well dentistry is no different. Looking after your dental health is a vital component of looking after your overall health. And that means the healthy choice is to visit your dentist at least twice per year, even if you are not experiencing any dental pain.

The unfortunate truth is that a lack of pain today does not mean problems are not developing. You may be developing periodontitis, gingivitis or cavities without experiencing even the slightest discomfort. All of these conditions can allow potentially harmful bacteria easy access into your body where they can do much more damage to your mouth and beyond!

You have probably heard the stories of an acquaintance feeling perfectly fine one day but waking up with a swollen, painful abscess the next! And one of the most common themes for these occurrences is dental neglect. When you investigate, you often discover that the patient does not brush or floss regularly or that their last visit to the dentist was 3 years ago.

The result…an oral health condition that could have been easily treated without any discomfort is now causing immense pain and might even require surgery to treat. All of this can happen because somebody thought “it ain’t broke”!

One thought we would like to leave you with is that oral health conditions are amongst the most common, chronic health problem in the world today. In some parts of the world, poverty is the main culprit. People in these regions are malnourished and lack the resources they need to look after their oral health.

In Canada, most of us are fortunate enough that this is not a problem. We have the resources and education we require to look after our oral health. We just have to use them.

So when it comes to your oral health, never mind the “if it ain’t broke” philosophy. Work on the truism that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! Because maintaining that ounce of prevention is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon