The Difference Between Dental Care and Health Care: Preventive vs Restorative Approaches

Preventive dental care is as important as preventive health care, but we don’t hear about it nearly as often.

Did you know that dental coverage is not meant to operate like your health insurance does? Many people avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. But, maintaining a healthy mouth is proven to save you money. Why? Because it improves your oral health and your overall health, avoiding costly problems down the road. Not taking care of your smile can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis which all contribute to worsening overall health conditions. That’s why maintaining our oral health by using preventive dental care is so important.

We’ve been trained to call the doctor when we have an ear infection, bad allergies, stomach pain, etc. That means we’re waiting for the problem to occur to address and fix it. Your oral health works differently, though. Your dentist’s job is to make sure your mouth is so healthy that problems don’t have the opportunity to arise. The dentist helps you avoid potentially painful and costly issues resulting from poor dental care. If you maintain a healthy smile, restorative care procedures are rarely needed.

Restorative Care vs Preventive Care

Some individuals never have the need for restorative dental care because they maintain their preventive care. Preventive care includes seeing your dentist twice a year for a cleaning, brushing twice a day and after meals with fluoride toothpaste, and flossing daily. Tending to any other oral health concerns like teeth grinding or a dry mouth should also be part of your preventive care routine.

We take preventive measures for our bodies, even if you’re not familiar with the term. We exercise, buy organic foods, and try to get enough sleep so we can perform at our fullest. Your smile deserves the same care and attention. It benefits from preventive care just like our bodies do.

Artificial trans fats are banned from restaurants and grocers, smoking is illegal indoors, and “healthier” diets crop up everywhere we look. But when was the last time you heard someone talking about the importance of preventive dental care?

We don’t hear about it as often. This leads many individuals to be unaware of the effects poor dental health can have on overall health. In turn, lifelong practices of poor dental care result in overall health concerns and the need for costly restorative dental care. Restorative care is the next step dentists must take when preventive care isn’t enough.

Where’s the Education Around Preventive Dental Care?

When was the last time you saw something about the dangers of smoking and its effects on your mouth and teeth? Probably not nearly as often as you hear how smoking can increase your risk of lung cancer. Smoking is responsible for higher rates of cavities and periodontal disease, but also for certain forms of mouth and esophageal cancer.

Let’s think about schools. What if they implemented a Presidential Oral Fitness Award to kids who display amazing brushing or flossing habits? This type of recognition could encourage kids to take better care of their smiles. Maybe one day we’ll get there, but for now, progress lies in research. We’re seeing more research into the connection between our oral and our overall health. By utilizing good preventive dental and oral care, nearly all oral health-related diseases can be prevented.

Good Preventive Dental Care

Good preventive oral health care starts with regular visits to the dentist. But it’s also about having good oral health habits at home by brushing at least twice per day, and flossing at least once per day.  Other habits negatively affect our oral health including smoking, sugar consumption, diet, and alcohol consumption. Oral health in America has improved over the years, but it still has a long way to go.

1 in 4 Americans has untreated tooth decay, putting the total number at close to 100 million Americans. People with dental benefits are far more likely to see the dentist, and about 77% of the population has dental benefits. Consequently, people with dental coverage are also more likely to practice good preventive dental care at home.

According to the National Association of Dental Plans, those without dental insurance are:

  • 67% more likely to have heart disease;
  • 50% more likely to have osteoporosis; and
  • 29% more likely to have diabetes.

While we don’t often hear about the consequences of poor oral health, it can affect your overall wellness and everyday life.

Learn more about our dental plans and become more proactive with your preventive dental care.

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