Costs of Neglecting Preventive Dental Care

by Shelley Frost
A composite photo shows a closeup of a mouth with dark colored neglected teeth on the left side and pristine pearly white teeth on the right side, teeth, tooth, mouth, closeup, teeth whitening, tooth whitening, teeth, tooth, whitening, dentist, dentistry, dental, lips

Is it the buzz of the drill, the thought of needles or the fear of pain that keeps you away from the dentist? Dental fears can keep otherwise health-conscious people from getting the preventive dental care they need.

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Skipping your routine dental checkup might not seem like a big deal, especially if you don't have any noticeable dental issues. But it could lead to major problems down the road.

What Are the Potential ‘Costs’ of Neglecting Dental Care?

What happens if you don't go to the dentist? Avoiding preventive dental care might not seem like it's causing damage at first, but avoiding a dental cleaning long-term can lead to major consequences. Here are some of the costs of skipping routine dental care.

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1. Cavities

Even if you brush and floss regularly, you can still get cavities. But if you avoid your dental checkup, small cavities continue to decay, which can cause a much bigger issue. Treatment becomes more extensive and difficult and might require a root canal or tooth extraction. Untreated cavities can also cause painful infections that can spread to connective tissues and bones.

2. Gum Issues

A lack of dental care can lead to gum issues. Gingivitis is a gum disease associated with swelling and bleeding. Gum disease is still reversible at this point. If you visit the dentist regularly, they can catch it early and treat it before it advances into periodontitis, which can cause receding gums, infections, bone loss and other severe issues.

3. Tooth Loss

If you have untreated tooth decay or gum disease, you could eventually lose teeth. Sometimes, a root canal can save the tooth, but severe infections and decay might make the tooth unsalvageable. The tooth might fall out on its own, or the dentist might recommend pulling it. Losing an adult tooth means you'll need additional dental treatments.

4. Bad Breath

Bad breath can come from what you eat or a lack of brushing and flossing. If you have tooth decay due to a lack of preventive dental care, you might experience chronic bad breath. Bacteria in your mouth from lack of dental care can also cause odors.

5. Appearance Issues

Skipping the dentist can leave your teeth looking stained, cracked or otherwise less attractive. If tooth decay is severe enough, it could be visible when you open your mouth. These appearance issues could leave you feeling self-conscious and make you avoid smiling. Feeling insecure about your teeth could affect your mood or mental health.

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6. Oral Cancer

A routine dental checkup includes a variety of checks. Your dentist will inspect your entire mouth and look for issues. Anyone can get oral cancer, even people who go for regular dental cleaning procedures. However, hygienists and dentists can often spot the signs of oral cancer faster than you would. Catching the disease early typically makes it more treatable.

7. Other Health Complications

Dental care doesn't just affect your teeth. You could develop serious health conditions throughout your body if you miss your routine cleaning and exam. Poor oral hygiene can cause bacteria from your mouth to travel to your heart via your bloodstream. That could cause endocarditis and other types of cardiovascular disease. If the bacteria gets into your lungs, you could develop pneumonia.

8. Higher Dental Bills

You can avoid your routine dental cleaning for a while, but your dental issues will catch up with you eventually. When you finally go for a dental checkup, the treatment will likely be more invasive and come with a much higher price tag.

Even if you have dental insurance, you could end up paying a lot out of pocket. Major dental procedures are often only covered at 50% under dental insurance, so you'll be stuck with the other half of the bill. Plus, dental plans have a maximum benefit amount for the year. If the plan pays out that maximum amount, you have to pay all remaining dental bills for the year.

9. Missed Work

Having a day off work here and there is a good thing, but it's not so pleasant when you're missing work due to dental pain. Ignoring preventive dental care can lead to dental complications that cause pain or infections. This could keep you from going to work or doing other normal activities. You might also need extensive dental work to correct the issue, which could force you to miss more work for the appointments and recovery.

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Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of eLocal Editorial Content is subject to the

Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

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