By Dr. Sonia Tao-Yi
One of the reasons why some people do not seek regular dental care is due to the perception that dental treatment is costly. However, the reality is that dental neglect is far more expensive than prompt dental care. Following are some examples of how modern preventive services can take a big bite out of high dental costs:
Regular hygiene treatment
Patients who receive regular professional cleanings are far less likely to have dental problems—especially cavities and gum disease. Those who stay on a periodic cleaning schedule—perhaps two or three times a year—will not normally require significant additional treatment. For this reason, these therapeutic visits may very well save more through prevention than they cost.
Specialized preventive treatment
Some patients are especially susceptible to certain types of dental disease. For these situations there are inexpensive options to preserve dental health, such as the following:
Nighttime bite guards
For patients with a strong bite, especially those who grind their teeth while sleeping, wearing a properly designed nighttime device can protect teeth against wear and breakage.
Prescription fluoride treatment
Some patients have a high susceptibility to tooth decay, despite good home-care habits and regular professional cleanings. For these patients, there are effective anti-decay medications that can be prescribed that are most effective when administered in custom trays that fit the exact shape of the teeth.
Almost everyone can do a better job of cleaning his or her teeth with a highly rated electric toothbrush than using a conventional manual kind. These devices are especially helpful in preventing dental problems for those who have decreased manual dexterity.
Special mouth rinses
Those patients with a history of gum disease can benefit from certain types of mouth rinses, which supplement normal brushing and flossing habits by helping to decrease the percentage of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Sleep apnea appliances
Perhaps 70 percent or so of patients who suffer from sleep apnea can be successfully treated with a dental appliance. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is the first line of treatment. However, for patients who cannot tolerate wearing it, the oral appliance for sleep apnea can be a great alternative.
So if you are serious about saving your teeth and saving money, find a dental practice that makes prevention its top priority. In the infamous words of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, “Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, baby…”
Dr. Sonia Tao-Yi has been a part of City Center Dental Care for more than a decade, and has been practicing for almost 20 years. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley, followed by dental school at the University of Detroit-Mercy, for which she received an Air Force scholarship. Dr. Tao-Yi can be reached at 757-873-3001 or on the website at www.dentalcare4u.com.