The tooth fairy has an average rate for baby teeth, and every kid looks forward to cashing in. But once the permanent teeth move into place, the value jumps upward. Along the way, the cost of maintaining and repairing teeth usually receives a lot of consideration in the household budget.
But what about weighing that against the cost of losing those precious adult teeth?
It seems like a simple question, but there are complex factors that go beyond immediate dollars and cents. In some cases, a tooth reaches the point of no return and must be taken out to solve the problem. But often the decision to remove a salvageable tooth gets made under the stress of pain, infection, or financial constraints. While it may be a cheaper option in the short-term, a higher price may add up as time goes on.
A 2008 study provided the first substantial evidence about the social consequences of missing teeth. Participants rated photos of people with one to four missing visible teeth in multiple categories including trustworthiness, friendliness, intelligence, aggressiveness, and more. A person missing visible teeth was perceived more negatively on every social trait, regardless of other factors.
But what becomes of social perceptions? Unfortunately, perceptions can lead to unfair judgements that influence more than you realize. It may mean missing an employment opportunity or being passed over for a promotion. Or you may drop a major sale with a prospective customer, not even realizing the subtle influences that a smile plays in the transaction. The cost of a missing tooth may ripple forward with real economic ramifications that are difficult to measure. But additional studies provide enough evidence to even assign a value to a smile in business dealings!
One or two missing teeth may not dramatically affect your physical health. But the disease process that leads to degradation of the teeth and supporting bone carries serious consequences. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and introduces a host of bacteria to the body. In fact, mouth bacteria entering the bloodstream through bleeding gums enjoy free access to all the microvessels of the body. These bacteria have been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. The ultimate cost reaches beyond economics, although healthcare costs impact the quality of life along the way.
Costs play a role in many treatment decisions, and our goal is to create a plan that works for you in every way. Few healthcare services provide greater value than preventive dentistry, leveraging a predictable investment to save immeasurable amounts down the road.
Early detection of dental disease and control of the causative factors typically means keeping your teeth intact. And sidestepping tooth loss means avoiding the social perceptions that the research confirms exist in our society. More importantly, a good preventive plan minimizes the risks to your general health brought on by potent oral bacteria.
If you’re missing teeth, it’s not too late to put your smile back together. Modern dentistry offers a myriad of possibilities to blend excellent function and beauty for nearly every situation. The investment made in a healthy mouth generates a return reaching far beyond dollars and cents. Coupling sound preventive strategies with optimal restorative care yields a value that you may even decide is priceless!