Why People Avoid the Dentist

We all know that a visit to the dentist should happen once every six months. This helps keep our teeth in check, allowing the opportunity for routine professional cleaning and the prevention of potential oral health complications in the future. However, statistics released by the American Dental Association (ADA) show that many of us might not actually be seeing our dentists as often as we should. 

According to ADA statistics, one in every five U.S. adults reported not seeing their dentist in the last three or more years. Around 27% of respondents said they had only visited their dentist once in the last one to three years, and only a little more than half follow their routine dental appointment schedule the way they should. So what gives? What prevents people from visiting their dentist to get the care they need? Well, these 3 reasons collected from a study conducted by the ADA might explain the aversion to dental care.

1. It’s expensive!

The ADA surveyed 4,014 adults for its study—the first nationally representative study on why adults might not have plans to visit their dentist within the next 12-month period. Across all respondents, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, and extent of insurance coverage, the cost of dental care often came out as the most common reason for not visiting the dentist. 

While there might be some truth to the idea that dental care services have increased in cost throughout the years, that doesn’t make them unaffordable. Most dental plans cover routine checkups and professional cleanings and may shoulder up to 50% of the cost of more complicated procedures. Of course, that means you might still have to pay out of your pocket, but with your insurance, that also means saving up to half the entire expense. 

Another thing that people tend to overlook is the preventive benefits of routine checkups. Dental care becomes more expensive when you allow supposedly minor dental health issues to complicate over time. And of course, that happens when you don’t go to your dentist on a routine basis. 

With that said, it might actually be cheaper to see your dentist when you should as opposed to only stepping into their clinic when your oral health status leaves you no choice. By visiting regularly, you can maintain optimal dental wellness and prevent potential complications, curbing the need for expensive, high-ticket procedures. After all, your insurance will cover routine cleaning and checkups anyway.

2. I don’t need to.

So maybe your teeth feel and look pretty much problem-free. Why bother stepping into a dental clinic? Unfortunately, the illusion of oral wellness is one thing many of us fall for simply because we think that if there isn’t any pain or apparent damage, then there shouldn’t be a cause for concern. 

But just like a well-oiled machine, your teeth will only stay healthy if you give them the routine professional cleaning and maintenance that they need. Aside from that, it also pays to consider the fact that some conditions might not be readily observable to someone who isn’t trained to notice them.

For example, headaches can be caused by dental health problems, but because we wouldn’t make the connection, we might deal with the headaches the best way we know how while completely overlooking their possible cause in our mouths. 

When it comes right down to it, we know far less about our teeth than we think. So even if you’re assuming that you’re pretty healthy in the mouth region, your dentist might say otherwise.

3. I don’t have time for a checkup.

It’s no secret that adult life can get pretty hectic, but that doesn’t mean you can skip out on important appointments concerning your health. As the third-most popular reason for deliberately missing a dental appointment, not having enough time is really a problem that stems from priority rather than actual availability. 

If you need to visit your dentist for a routine checkup, cleaning, or procedure, check your contract to find out whether your employer allows paid time off for such appointments. If there isn’t a clause to cover it, try filing for some paid time off so you can step into your dentist’s clinic and get the care you need. 

Now, if your employer refuses to grant your leave request (which they are legally allowed to do, especially if there isn’t a stipulation for it in your contract), then shop around for dental clinics that are open on evenings and weekends. There are lots of dentists out there that recognize the restrictions of the average working schedule, so they’ll cater to people just like you with extended clinic hours or seven-day clinic operations. 

But what if my dentist doesn’t offer that kind of extended schedule? You’d be surprised just how willing a good dentist might be to work your appointment into their schedule—even if they’re not operational during your available time. Talk to your dentist about whether or not they could accommodate you during your free hours. If they can’t, then they might be able to point you in the direction of a trusted dentist who can.