Basic dental hygiene prevents larger and more expensive health problems

Basic dental hygiene prevents larger and more expensive health problems

Since we were children, we have heard a lot about the value of practicing “good dental hygiene,” but it is often assumed that we already know what that means. Unfortunately, we usually assume that we know what the results of such regular practice will be… but we are wrong.

However, most of us only come to think of the condition of our teeth and perhaps our personal appearance. Occasionally, we may also think of the fact that if we took better care of our teeth, we would have fewer visits to the dentist.

We understand at some level that we would not need such drastic dental procedures as fillings, extractions, and root canals. We realize, at least to some extent, that we would probably look and feel better… not to mention that we would experience less pain… if our dental hygiene habits were a little better. We can even understand that the actual expense of dental procedures after the fact will be far greater than the cost associated with just keeping our teeth and gums healthy on a day-to-day basis.

However, most of us never put the whole package together and realize the total impact that carelessness of basic dental hygiene can have on us. Not only will our wallets and jaws be affected, but time will also be wasted in our daily activities, either while performing the required daily dental care or when we visit the dentist later to correct conditions that developed as a result of our negligence. Worse yet, we will probably experience unnecessary pain, poor health and possibly early death, or at least debilitating conditions, as a result of not taking the few simple and relatively inexpensive steps that would take care of the situation before it has a chance to occur.


Obviously, for most of us, poor dental hygiene leads to cavities (dental caries). Cavities are holes in the teeth that must be filled by a dentist. From a cost point of view, filling a cavity can cost $100 or more. Some particular situations and solutions can cost as much as $1,000 or even more.

Some teeth will be in very bad shape but can be saved by root canal treatment. The cost of a root canal can be hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars. Some teeth that cannot be saved will have to be removed. An approximate cost for tooth extraction is between $75 and $150, although special situations and complications could be even more expensive, of course.

Not only do you have to consider the effective cost of dental procedures, but there is also often pain associated with the condition. Many of these situations could be prevented with basic and regular dental hygiene measures, saving both money and discomfort. Sometimes these situations, and/or the procedure used to correct them, can affect the individual’s appearance, negatively impacting their own image and self-esteem. In addition, if someone has been neglecting the care of their teeth, gums and mouth, then several teeth can be impacted, creating, even more, cost in terms of money, pain and perhaps less self-esteem.


For some time, dental care providers have been aware that diseases and conditions of the mouth, teeth, and gums may contribute to other health problems. Recent studies have not only confirmed this knowledge but have also expanded it. Without going into detail here, it suffices to say that poor dental hygiene has been linked to many debilitating diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer.

A life full of disease and pain and all the kinds of costs associated with that can be the result of not taking a few simple, relatively inexpensive steps to a healthy mouth and gums.


Regular brushing and flossing – One of the first steps someone can take on the road to proper dental hygiene is to simply brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Although some recommend brushing in the morning and before bedtime, it may be helpful to at least clench your teeth sometime during the day. Flossing removes plaque that builds up around your teeth.

Use a fluoride toothpaste – This toothpaste will help prevent the growth of plaque while strengthening the tooth enamel itself. Mouthwashes with fluoride and ingredients to prevent plaque may also help.

Avoid sugar – Sugar not only helps promote plaque growth but also contributes to unnecessary weight gain. Since more than 65% of the adult population in the United States is overweight, reducing the sugar in our diets could have a double effect in favor of good health.

Avoid Tobacco – Although smoking and chewing may or may not have any direct effect on teeth, tobacco products can contribute to gum and mouth diseases, including oral cancer.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly – A dentist may detect a developing cavity or other condition before it becomes a large and costly problem. Bad things may be happening in your mouth, or in your child’s mouth, that you are not aware of, but the dentist can discern and possibly take steps to correct them. The dentist’s office also tends to offer a cleaning that will be much better than what can normally be done at home.

Even if you skip all the other steps, visiting your dentist a couple of times a year just for a checkup and cleaning could go a long way toward keeping your teeth, gums, and mouth in a healthy condition.

Zaida S. Goodman

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