According to a 2009 Harris Interactive/HealthDay Poll, 50 percent of uninsured and 30 percent of insured Americans skipped seeking annual dental care to save money. That decision can actually end up costing more than just money in the long run as individuals who choose to skip the dentist are making a big mistake as paying to repair dental neglect is far more expensive than paying for preventative dentistry in the first place.
Estimates suggest that for every one dollar invested into preventative dentistry (including the process of practicing daily oral hygiene, getting annual check-ups, tooth cleanings and other dental treatments) can result in a savings ranging from eight to fifty dollar per dollar investment. Although money is certainly an issue, dental neglect can contribute to other issues ranging from small paychecks to knocking on heaven's door.
Dental neglect will not only contribute to conditions such as bad breath and tooth decay as the reality is that behavior can kill. The family of seventh grader Deamonte Driver sadly learned that lesson the hard way.
Deamonte Driver was an average twelve year old living in Washington DC. Factors linked to coming from a low income family (including but not limited to lack of access to regular dental care and not getting proper nutrition) helped contribute to the pre-teen developing a painful dental abscess.
Deamonte's complaints resulted in his mother looking to find a dentist who was part of the Medicaid program. She had no luck. When Deamonte's condition worsened, a trip to the local ER resulted in a him receiving medicine to treat his symptoms (headaches, sinusitis and a dental abscess) and was then sent home. That proved not to be enough as the excess of oral bacteria that caused his dental problems spread to his brain and despite medical efforts (two surgeries, specialized care and additional therapy) Deamonte died on February 25, 2007. After the fact it was concluded that a tooth extraction (ranging in cost from $75 to $300) would have remedied the condition and spared his life.
PBS suggests that approximately 15 million American adults (around 8 percent) of the U.S. population eighteen years and older suffer from depression annually. Of that group, 80 percent of them do not receive any type of treatment. Those who suffering with the conditions may experience dental neglect (and subsequent) dental problems as a result as that low-down feeling may prevent a person from seeking professional dental care (courtesy of dental anxiety) practicing oral hygiene and eating a healthy diet and instead fuel their passion for self medicating via tooth destroying vices (such as smoking, drinking, binge eating).
The relationship also works the other-way around as dental neglect can contribute to depression. While some individuals have a genetic disposition for depression, there are a variety of causes that can also drag people down. Some cause-and-effect examples include a death of a loved one, divorce and job loss; diminished dental health can also may a person beyond blue.
Dental neglect (caused by lack of time or knowledge) will allow levels of oral bacteria to explode and create mounds of dental plaque and tartar as a result. As those levels skyrocket and are left unchecked, dental health will be negatively impacted and individuals can experience an assortment of dental problems (IE bad breath, cavities, tooth decay and tooth loss). Ultimately, that can destroy a smile and make a person less attractive to the world at large and to themselves. That low self esteem can make a person feel worthless and influence poor decision making choices; that can contribute to a vicious cycle and more dental problems down the line.
Most people find that life is better with love and invest effort into finding their better half. However, individuals suffering from dental neglect may be laden with low self-esteem that prevents them from being attractive to others as well has having sexual dysfunction linked specifically to their oral health.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissue that supports the teeth and high oral bacteria levels caused by dental neglect can contribute to the issue. Not only can the infection cause gingivitis, periodontal disease, missing teeth, strokes, depleted red blood cell counts and diabetes, research has shown that the oral condition can be linked to erectile dysfunction. One study showed that as complications surrounding erectile dysfunction increased, so did gum disease levels (Pradeep, A R., Sharma Anuj., and Arjun Raju P. (2011). Association Between Chronic Periodontitis and Vasculogenic Erectile Dysfunction, Journal of Periodontology, 0:0, 1-7).
Regardless of gender, dental neglect is also a big romantic turn off. Research conducted by Kelton Research, indicated oral hygiene incredibly important to setting the mood. Their findings indicated that 59 percent of Americans would be turned-off if their partner skipped the basic dental care behaviors of brushing or flossing his or her teeth for a week.
The fact is, money does not buy happiness, but it can purchase dental care and provide benefits that far exceed the value of the intitial investment. Individuals looking to find a dentist who may work with their budgetary constraints can call 1-800-DENTIST to find a great dentist.