If You’ve Neglected Your Smile, You Can Still Get a Smile Makeover

There is a situation that some people choose to ignore, and have done so for many years. It’s the “neglected” smile. There are some people who have not seen a dentist for 5, 10, 15 or more years. I know many of you (in jest) are wishing you could say the same, however the serious reality is that professional and personal dental neglect is extremely detrimental to your oral health.  But you can still have a beautiful smile!

There are many reasons why a smile may have been neglected. It could be as simple as that your dentist retired and another one wasn’t found yet. Or maybe as complex as deep-seated dental fears and anxiety that makes going to the dentist the absolute, and I mean absolute, last priority. Or perhaps there are other urgent things going on, such as major health issues or taking care of a loved one. Regardless of the reason, after years of not seeing a dental professional, it may be very difficult to take steps to start seeing the dentist again.

Remake Your Neglected Smile – You Can Have a Wonderful, Bright Smile

So if you are someone who hasn’t been to the dentist in a very long time, keep in mind that your oral health is always in your hands. Whether the last time you saw a dentist was six months or six years ago, it does no good to just spend time fretting about the unfortunate state of your teeth. The main thing to focus on is what you’re going to do today to get your smile back in shape. Once you make the decision to have dental health become a priority, you have overcome the biggest obstacle.

If you do not visit the dentist and hygienist regularly for examinations and cleanings, you have a greater chance of losing teeth to periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease still remains the major cause of adult tooth loss and affects about 75% of Americans throughout their lifetime. Periodontal disease is a “silent disease” as its warning signs may be subtle. With gum disease when you first feel discomfort or pain it may already be too late to save your teeth. It starts with plaque, which is a sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that forms on your teeth. If not removed thoroughly each day by your brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar or calculus, which irritates the gums and will eventually lead to irreversible damage to the gums and underlying bone.

In addition to being at risk for periodontal disease, people who don’t regularly visit the dentist are more likely to develop advanced tooth decay. When a cavity first forms, it affects only the enamel or hardest surface of the tooth. If the decay is treated and repaired with a restoration, it will help to stop further damage to the tooth from that entry point. However, left untreated, bacteria would continue to feed on the tooth, which may damage the tooth pulp. Once there is exposure of the pulp, which houses the nerves, the tooth can be saved only through root canal therapy and an extensive tooth restorative procedure. Furthermore, by not visiting the dentist regularly, other essential examinations cannot be performed, such as an oral cancer screening.

There are many other negative aspects of having neglected teeth. Patients who finally decide to seek dental treatment tell me that their neglected smile affected their social life and professional life. They claim their visibly damaged smile forced them to not smile or not say anything to avoid embarrassment and attention to their teeth. They talk about settling to live with pain, discomfort and sensitivity. Also they would limit what they ate to softer foods, because of the discomfort of chewing.

The positives of curing the neglected smile are numerous. Starting to take steps towards a healthy smile today means increasing the chances of saving as many teeth as possible. Beyond that, patients who have undergone extensive cosmetic and restorative dental procedures not only say they regained their self-confidence socially, they feel they are able to dynamically do better professionally. All of these people also mention they regret not fixing their smile long ago.

Overcome Fear by Taking in the Dental Day Spa

So start now – there’s no reason to wait any longer. It’s time to start over on the road to optimal dental health. If you need to find a dentist, start by talking to family, friends and co-workers about their dentists. Think about what you want from a dentist and match it to the needs of those you’re talking with. For example, if it’s dental anxiety that keeps you away from the dentist, keep in mind that new approaches such as massage therapy and other spa pamperings help to counteract a lot of the problems of dental fear. Remember, if someone says they also haven’t been to a dentist in years, that’s not justification for you to stop your pursuit of good dental health. Keep on asking around.

When you do go to your first appointment, take a friend or family member if it gives you assurance, or would help you to make sure you go to the appointment. You should be able to tell the dental staff your concerns about dental treatment. If they don’t know, they can’t take measures to address them or make you feel more relaxed.

It’s never easy to leave your comfort zone, regardless of where that zone is. To take that first step, you have to make a decision that this is what’s important for you. Only then can you continue on your path, step by step, to a healthier smile!

Dr. Wynn Okuda is an award winning international leader in cosmetic dentistry. He is one of only 280 dentists in the world to be accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Dr. Okuda turned the dental profession on its head nearly a decade ago , replacing pain, fear, & discomfort with the Dental Day Spa system. His offices for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry are located in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Dr. Okuda has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, American Spa, Shape Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Health & Fitness Sports Magazine, New Woman, and dozens more!

Dr. Okuda is the founder of “Give Back A Smile,” a charitable foundation of the AACD, which helps survivors of domestic violence throughout the nation to restore their smiles and lives. He has assembled nearly 1,000 cosmetic dentists nationwide to help fight against domestic violence.