The fact that something isn’t hurting, so therefore there is nothing wrong, is probably one of the most famous misconceptions patients have about the dental field. Whenever I tell a patient they have an issue, I do my best to explain it in simple terms. I make clear which treatment will solve the problem and explain the ramifications if the issue is not addressed. Very often I hear the response, “Well, it isn’t hurting yet so I will wait.” It is unfortunate that dentistry is one of the few areas of healthcare where discomfort only arises after a great deal of damage has already occurred. For instance, it would be easy to be a chiropractor or primary care physician where people usually go after there is significant discomfort to get treatment. The uphill battle of convincing someone to proceed with treatment has already been conquered. As I continued considering this line of thinking I then realized there are actually a few areas, where like dentistry, discomfort comes after a considerable amount of damage has been done. For instance, let’s say you went to your cardiovascular specialist (it’s always best to go to extremes to get your point across) and he says, “Mr. Patient, you have significant blockage in your heart and we need to fix it.” How many people would reply with, “I haven’t had any discomfort or a heart attack yet so can’t be that bad”? Or if your dermatologist tells you that you have a suspicious lesion that needs to be removed immediately. I can’t imagine anyone saying, “I appreciate your concern Doc, but it isn’t hurting and the new iPhone is about to come out so I can’t afford it anyways”. In lieu of resorting to telling patients their cavity is precancerous in order to get them to address the problem, I will give you a quick rundown of the customary treatment for different levels of decay, the cost associated with waiting, and when exactly you “notice something”.
Recommendation-Brush and floss and send my best to the family!
Level 2-small cavity in the enamel
Cost-$170 or 2 Nordstrom Rocks (no really it is a thing)
Level-3-Cavity through enamel into dentin
Cost-at least $850 or Cam Newton Versace Zebra Pants
Level-4-Cavity through into nerve and tooth pulp.
Recommendation-Root canal and crown
Pain-This is where root canals get their bad reputation. People come into the office in severe discomfort and I tell them the cavity has gone into the nerve. The root canal is not uncomfortable, the patient is completely numb, it is the severe pain before that people remember.
Cost-Around $2000 or 2 Serenity Cat Beds
Level-5-Decay througout the nerve and pulp chamber. Infection begins to spread into bone.
Recommendation-Extraction and dental implant.
Pain-More than just the tooth the entire side of face is swollen and extremely uncomfortable as well as possible damage to the surrounding teeth.
Cost-$3500 or Original Star Wars Villian Special Action Figurine Set
As is rather obvious, the longer you wait the less enjoyable the impending dental experience becomes, both on your mouth as well as on your wallet. We want you to keep your teeth, and your money, so you can get some of these great gift ideas for someone you love this holiday season.