All About Dental Wellness

Dental Wellness

Words: Paribha VASHIST

Picture this. The last time you went to a dentist was, perhaps, some months ago, or more. The fact is most people wouldn’t be able to recall, as they would of their last year’s birthday treat. Come to think of it: going to a dentist is our last resort; we only visit when we can no longer bear the pain caused by our cavities, or soreness of gums, or need braces. This brings us to the most important question: why do we not visit the dentist for regular health check-ups, as we do for blood tests?

Fear & Bad Memories

A fear of dentists is instilled in us from our formative years, or childhood. When we think of dentists, blurry images of scary ‘drilling’ machines and needles conjure up in our minds. Moreover, our past experiences of getting root canal, or orthodontic procedures, remind us of the pain and discomfort. So, a combination of fear and bad memories disincentives us from visiting the dentist. What we don’t fathom is that these perceptions are bloated and our painful experiences are a result of our long-term negligence.

In times past, dentists had limited medical equipment and technology, so the experience was generally painful. Thus, people wrote accounts and spread stories of their horrifying experiences, which still shapes our perception in the 21st century. However, the present scenario is different: dentists have a patient-centric approach, state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and they make the process as comfortable as possible.

Also, we need to consider this question: If we visit the dentist for regular check-ups, would we reach the stage of getting a root canal done in the first place? In fact, our routine visits would ensure that we don’t have to endure all that pain.

Dental Care Important

There’s a school of thought that believes that going to the dentist for minor check-ups is a waste of money and time. However, most people do not realise that our personal knowledge of dental care is awfully limited.

In the Tudor times [1485-1603 AD], the expansion of overseas trade led to the mass production of sugar or ‘white gold.’ It became an essential luxury element to enhance mediaeval English diet. However, owing to lack of scientific research, people didn’t notice that this sweet commodity was the key reason behind burgeoning dental problems. Ironically, they used sugar-based solutions to clean their teeth, which only exacerbated their suffering too.

The Scientific Revolution, which began in 1500 AD, and gained momentum in the 19th century, was the turning point. It resulted in a major transformation of our knowledge from the middle ages to modern times [It’s endless hilarity, yes, to watch Charlie Chaplin, as the dentist’s assistant, in the silent film, The Dentist {1914}, but dentistry, or your teeth, is a serious thing]. We should feel fortunate that we are now cognisant of the innumerable factors that can harm our teeth and the relevant precautions that can be taken.

It is apparent that dentists are well-versed with subject knowledge; i.e., they not only have a nuanced and detailed understanding of dental health, they also have the professional ability to gauge any imminent threat quickly by examining our teeth regularly. So, there it is: instead of relying on quick-fixes and home-made remedies, or having a ‘tooth-full’ of fun at others’ expense, we must consult our dentist who has the requisite medical expertise to pre-empt dental health issues, or concerns, before they flare up and turn into a raging dilemma. 

Skewed Priorities

The sad reality is that most of us do not pay much attention to our dental hygiene; we also fail to realise that poor dental care can open a Pandora’s box for a number of other ailments. If we, for instance, neglect our dental hygiene, we may suffer from sore gums and sensitive teeth, at first, but eventually the infection in our mouth could enter the bloodstream and affect other organs, including our heart and kidneys. This is a possibility that we would want to avoid at all costs. In this scenario, the dentist can be our guiding light as they can prompt us to think about our dental health and give us the right tips to maintain good oral hygiene.

Victims Of Habits

We are creatures of habits, also routines. With so many deadlines and work-related commitments, we do not take out the time to visit a dentist. Whatever surplus time we have, we want to use it to pursue leisure activities, instead of going to the dentist, and being lectured on dental hygiene. On top of that, lethargy seeps in — why spend the weekend at the dentist’s place when one can just relax and watch TV? This is a normal experience for all of us, but prioritising our dental health is crucial. So, we must ensure that we mark a day, regularly, every six months, in our calendar, for a dental check-up. This is the best way to taking care of our valuable asset: our teeth.

Cost Factor

Yet another factor that deters us from going to the dentist is thought of the likely expense. Dental procedures are generally expensive, because of the possible complications involved, especially when one has neglected dental hygiene and care for too long. So, we end up labelling ‘dental visits’ as a luxury activity — something that need not be incorporated in our routine.

What we miserably fail to comprehend is that going for regular dental check-ups is one of the most rewarding activities in terms of high benefits and low costs. A dentist not only keeps us on our toes, if not on the edge of one’s teeth, to maintain our dental hygiene, but also makes us feel confident about our smile. Additionally, regular dental check-ups are far more affordable compared to the cumulative costs we may bear — in terms of money, pain, and loss of teeth — when our dental ailments would have gone too far. If the problems are identified early, the treatment is simple and inexpensive. But, a problem left undiagnosed could lead to a situation requiring costly treatments, including specialised dental surgery.

Solution 

We all get only one set of natural, valuable teeth, so we must take good care of them by maintaining good oral and teeth hygiene, including regular dental check-ups. Dentists, who are specialists, know everything better than we do; so, consulting them is important.

In the event we have dental fear and anxiety, we must voice our concerns to our dentist; they will make sure we are at ease. Well, if it is the cost of treatment that is deterring us, let’s bust the myth: we will, indeed, be saving from our wallet much more than we would think by going for routine dental check-ups. A stitch in time, as they say, saves nine.

So, what is stopping you from visiting the dentist for a regular check-up? Don’t go figure. Just mark a date in your calendar and take appointment with the dentist.

PARIBHA VASHIST is a first-year Bachelor of Economics student at Gargi College, University of Delhi, New Delhi. A voracious reader and a naturally gifted writer, Vashist is zealously passionate about international economics, environmental policy and sustainable development. She wishes to effectively disseminate, in her own simple, yet profound way, scientific knowledge and policy tools to bringing about a positive, healthy change in our increasingly madding world.

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