“As you make your bed, so you must lie in it.”
When I was young, I would cringe at a quote like that. Now, as a parent of 5 children, I simply nod my head in agreement.
As a busy Toronto dentist, getting someone to understand the consequences of neglect and the value of prevention is challenging. Sometimes it takes a crisis or two to wake someone up to the harsh reality of dental consequences.
If you’ve ever suffered through the pain of a severe dental emergency, you know what I’m talking about. Leaving a little problem unattended can eventually lead to rather serious consequences. You end up suffering from an agonizing toothache or you wake up one morning with your face swollen up like a balloon.
People still die from dental infections.
Thankfully, with access to antibiotics, that rarely happens nowadays. What people don’t realize is how much dental disease contributes to serious health issues such as heart and lung disease, strokes, diabetes, etc.
Your gums are a direct portal into your bloodstream. Dental infections are a burden to your immune system and a threat to your overall health.
You know what? Consequences can sometimes be a good thing - if it gives you that wakeup call you needed to finally get yourself back on track.
It’s human nature to slack off when there aren’t any consequences for neglecting things. Some people need that immanent threat looming over their heads before they’ll take things seriously.
Believe me, it’s that threat of dental pain and loss is what keeps many people honest with their hygiene habits and with regular checkups at the dentist.
Some people, even after suffering through multiple dental crises, will still drift along thinking they’ll be that rare exception. That they’ll get away with it. Like good old uncle Bob, who drank and smoked and cursed well into his 90’s.
A person can start thinking that those bad habits, like drinking high-sugar beverages, won’t hurt much. That those good habits, like brushing and flossing, aren’t really helping much.
Why do people think that way? Because it’s true, you CAN get away with things. For one day, indulging in bad habits and slacking off on the good ones isn’t going to make much difference.
Here’s the thing. One day’s exception, one day’s lack of vigilance, can soon turn into the everyday norm. Slacking off on habit control is as easy as sitting on a couch eating potato chips and watching TV. No effort or discipline required.
You can be easily lulled into complacency. Consequences of dental neglect are rarely immediate. Teeth are strong and gums are resilient. You can let things go for years and get away with it.
Then it starts. A little cavity. A little gum disease. Except there’s no one’s there to detect it and take care of it. Little gets bigger. Minor becomes major. And that crisis of pain finally becomes your wakeup call.
I see this all the time. Small issues left unattended can come back to bite you with a vengeance.
That’s the thing about dental diseases. It's progressive in nature, and unlike cuts, bruises and even broken bones, things don’t get better if left alone.
That cold or flu might knock you off your feet, but by next week it’s like it never happened. Dental disease is sneakier than that. It can seem like nothing bad is happening and it’s tempting to just let things slide until you’re certain there’s a real problem.
I'm not telling you all this so I can say "I told you so" when things go wrong. I'm giving you the scoop so I can tell you "Well done!" every time I examine your teeth.
Staying healthy requires constant vigilance and a good measure of preventive care. Both you and your dental team have to stay on top of it.
About the Author: Dr. Joe Bulger is a cosmetic dentist from Toronto, Canada and the owner-founder of Royal York Dental. A prestigious office serving West Toronto since 1950.
If you would like to learn more about your cosmetic dentistry options, fill out our contact form or CALL 416 231-0550 for a FREE & Easy No-Obligation First Visit.