Cost of avoiding the dentist, hand holding tooth and hand holding coinsA recent poll found that a whopping 40% of New Zealanders only visit the dentist when they think something is wrong – similar to a doctor. The major reason for this is cost: after all, why spend money on a dental check up if you don’t think you have any problems with your teeth or gums? The second reason is fear of the dentist, followed by simply believing that regular dental appointments are unnecessary. But it’s actually a myth that avoiding the dentist saves you money. Studies and experience show that avoiding regular dental appointments can often cost you much more in the long run. And we’re not just talking dollars but also pain, stress, inconvenience and potentially long-term consequences.

Let’s look at the case of a new patient that we have recently begun treating. When she was in her late 20’s she was advised at a dental check up that she needed several fillings to treat tooth decay. Unfortunately she delayed getting the fillings because of the cost, but of course her teeth kept deteriorating from decay and became increasingly painful. She eventually had four teeth extracted which had deteriorated beyond the point of saving. Now in her early 30’s, she had lost so much confidence because of the unsightly gaps in her mouth, she always covered her mouth when smiling or laughing, and even had trouble chewing food. We have treated her with a bridge, dental implants and crowns to fill the gaps and allow her to eat comfortably once again – and to be able to smile without feeling embarrassed. And while this is a great result that has transformed her life, it was all preventable if she had just had those fillings several years ago. It has now cost her so much more money, not to mention self-esteem, pain, stress and well-being that was entirely unnecessary.

You may think your teeth and gums are perfectly healthy because you brush and floss regularly. But dentists can diagnose problems right at the start long before you feel any pain or become aware of any changes in your mouth. This is ideal because in the early stages problems are likely to be much easier (and cheaper) to treat. An estimated 45% of New Zealanders have tooth decay but the vast majority are unaware of it – especially if they are not seeing their dentist regularly.

So stop avoiding the dentist. Regular dental appointments can literally save you thousands of dollars in the future. Knowing your oral health is all up-to-date is also one less thing to worry about in these stressful times.