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May 6

Preventive Care and You Care and You

In both the medical and the dental field, preventive services are routinely offered to patients that help the doctor to find and treat underlying problems that are not yet visible or that have not yet produced symptoms. These “problems” can be things like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, small cavities, gum disease, etc., and while these may not cause immediate pain at the onset, over time they can be a serious threat to your health. It seems that preventive services are greatly undervalued in regards to the mass population today, but this is slowly changing.

People in general seem to be apprehensive about testing. Why is this? Several factors may play into it.

The first, is that many cannot afford the testing that is suggested/required. You will often find that patients who don’t have insurance, don’t go to the doctor; and when they do, they don’t feel that they can follow through with treatments due to the financial burden it brings. Luckily, more and more insurance companies are leaning toward a focus on preventive testing coverage and insurance is becoming more affordable.

Dental insurances have been great to cover cleanings, x rays and fluoride treatments all along. Yet, you would be surprised at the numbers of people who have great coverage but still refuse to visit the dentist. Routine cleanings or hygiene visits are the only real defense against major cavities and expensive treatments, outside of the all important regular brushing and flossing regimen.

The next factor, is that many don’t take an active role in their health. They know they aren’t eating healthy. They know they aren’t exercising. They aren’t brushing/flossing regularly. After all, “I feel alright, and nothing hurts, so what’s the big deal?”. These are typically the patients who think the doctor is ordering tests because he is trying to pad his pockets. Doctors hear it around their clinics all the time, “I don’t feel bad and I never get sick, but that doctor keeps asking me to schedule all these tests!” They don’t understand the value and insight the testing provides. This is unfortunate because simply feeling “okay” does not mean there are no health issues to be addressed. After all, the patient is the one who truly suffers in the end.

Another factor is a lack of awareness and education. Many simply don’t understand the great benefits of preventive testing. Once a patient is truly educated about the possible long term financial and physical effects of undetected health concerns, the likelihood that he/she will schedule an appointment increases greatly. Insurance companies are trending toward preventive testing incentives, offering gift cards and points that can be redeemed for rewards in order to get patients proactively involved in their own care. This is because the treatment costs can be cut significantly for both the patient and the insurance company when problems are discovered early.

The last factor that may play a role in the lack of preventive care, is time. We live in busy times. We hurry scurry all over, often accomplishing very important tasks like providing for our families, spending time with our loved ones, encouraging our children in sporting events, volunteering for various worthy causes…but at some point we must stop to take care of ourselves. There must be some place in our busy lives to make sure we stay healthy and have the longevity to remain a vital part of the lives of those we love so much. You are important!! Your health is important!!

It may be that you’ve had a spouse or friend who has consistently harassed you to go to the doctor. It may be that you have some concern for your health due to family history of illness or disease and the fear of the results restrains you from testing. It may be that you don’t go to the dentist because of dental anxieties, or a fear of how expensive it might be. Whatever your reasons, whatever your fears, PLEASE consider getting your preventive testing and preventive care scheduled with your doctor/dentist. Did you know that the majority of people who have regular dental cleanings and have the cavities addressed (if any are found) while they are small, rarely have to have major dental services like root canals, crowns, bridges, etc.? Don’t wait for painful, or bothersome problems to arise in your mouth and in your body. Proactively manage your life, starting with your health!

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