No pain means no problem is the most common misconception why people avoid the dentist. Unfortunately, most dental conditions including cavities, gum disease and oral cancer give little or no warning, because they may remain painless for months or even many years. By the time a person is in pain, the dental problem is usually so advanced that the treatment required may be much more involved, costly and may require more down time after the procedure.
Every day, we see patients with untreated cavities that eventually cause infection to the nerves and blood supply within the tooth. A tooth that may have only needed a simple and inexpensive filling a few months ago will now require a root canal or surgical removal of the tooth.
The same is true for patients with gum disease. Gum disease can progress quietly for many years before it becomes advanced and teeth become loose or cause pain. While early gum disease can usually be treated with a deep cleaning under the gum, advanced gum disease may require gum surgery and antibiotics.
Oral cancer is also something that our dentist looks for on every dental examination. Tragically, those who avoid dental care are often the victims of aggressive forms of oral cancer that are difficult to treat. Those who wait for an unusual growth in the mouth to become painful may be taking a gamble. Oral cancer has a 50%, five-year fatality rate.