A great number of patients participate in their dentist’s recall program. Most dentists establish a regular schedule of recommended cleaning and examination for their patients and clearly it’s best if these are adhered to. That being said, less than half of active patients adhere to their planned hygiene schedule. Why is that?
Well, what I have observed is that most “new patients” initially stick with the program for a period of time (one to two years). During this time their mouth has been restored to health, their defective fillings and cavities repaired and their mouth is in a “happy” state. Some of our patients continue to keep their recare appointments as scheduled and their mouth for the most part continue in health. Occasionally a tooth or two may need maintenance but in general most who “are with the program do very well overtime.
Of course not all my patients stay on course and somewhere down the road, things happen and they can become too busy, too broke or too far away to maintain their scheduled hygiene. Some additional time goes by and we are contacted again when something is bothering them. Their gums start bleeding, a tooth starts hurting , their breath starts smelling, …. then they return somewhat sheepishly to our office.
This pattern is understandable. They may reason that since their mouth is now healthy and for the moment disease free, they may not really “need” the two recommended cleanings a year. The reasons patients use when contacted, but decline to schedule their recare appointment, are varied, but include they have lost their dental insurance, or been traveling a lot, or have a sick relative, or they have been dealing with their own health issues, and keeping to their agreed on preventive dental maintenance schedule is not possible for now.
Although it is understandable how they feel, it is not reasonable or logical in the long run since their is plenty of evidence that a healthy mouth does play its part in helping to insure that their body remains in health as well. Inflammation in the mouth has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and higher cancer rates. Most car owners do think its reasonable to do their oil changes every six thousand miles and they don’t even have car insurance that pays for this service. Similarly they have their hair cut and take their clothes the dry cleaners regularly without any insurance covering this service.
Over the long haul the cost of preventive dentistry is usually less expensive than the cost of loosing and replacing one tooth. Two preventive dental visits each year is probably the best insurance for the continued oral health. If you haven’t been to a dentist this year, its time to schedule your next appointment. Your mouth will thank you!