Visiting the dentist is often a regular part of many people’s lives, but it can be an anxiety-inducing experience for others. Whether the anxiety stems from fear of needles, drills, pain or the cost of dental services, it’s important to find a solution that is both effective and accessible.
Providing affordable and comprehensive preventive dental care is an essential part of a family dentist’s job. Whether they are delivering routine teeth cleanings, fillings, x-rays or oral cancer screenings, it is important that they are able to address these issues at their early stages when they are easier to treat and more cost-effective.
Aside from treating the symptomatic effects of decay and gum disease, family dentists offer preventive care to help their patients develop healthy oral hygiene habits that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s brushing correctly or using a specialized toothbrush to target hard-to-reach spots, the simple act of regular brushing and flossing can significantly decrease the risk of future dental problems.
Brushing, flossing and having a well-balanced diet can also help prevent bad breath. When bad bacteria is left to build up, it can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, which can cause inflammation, swelling and bleeding of the gums and bone loss around the roots of your teeth, leading to tooth loss. Regular visits to the dentist along with proper at-home care can reduce your chances of developing gum disease, a condition that affects your overall health by increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Most dental problems can be prevented with good oral hygiene, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and regular visits to the dentist for a professional teeth cleaning and exam. In addition, most dental insurance plans cover these services so that there are few or no out-of-pocket costs.
For those who cannot afford or access dental care, the Affordable Care Act provides dental coverage to offset preventive dental costs. This includes annual teeth cleanings, oral exams and basic x-rays, as well as fluoride treatments for children.
The American Dental Association recommends that adults and children visit the dentist for a standard checkup and teeth cleaning twice a year to prevent dental diseases from developing. These routine appointments can identify oral health problems in their early stages, remove stubborn plaque, and polish away stain, restoring a beautiful smile while maintaining optimal oral health.
For those who do not have dental insurance, community health centers and local governments can provide low-cost or free dental care for residents in their communities. These programs are often supported by grants from the federal government and can be found in every state. In addition, private providers like family dentists can work with community organizations to provide dental care for underserved populations such as rural residents, Medicaid recipients and Native American tribes.