Oral Health Month: Listen to your Body

"If only I'd gone to the doctor sooner," is probably one of the worst regrets a person can have in life. In honour of oral health month, we thought it was the perfect time to remind you that your oral health is a huge indicator of your overall health, and that the second you sense there’s something not quite right with either, you should go to a doctor rather than waiting as it worsens, hoping it’ll go away on its own.

Did you know that the survival rate of most major illnesses and diseases is considerably higher if you go to a doctor as soon as you notice something is off or start having symptoms? Here are some stats from Cancer Research UK on the advantages of early detection as well as an article from Wired Magazine that explains the 90/10 Rule (where if cancer is found early, 90% of patients survive versus the 10% survival rate for patients when cancer is found too late). While these statistics might sound dramatic, they don’t only apply to diseases as serious and scary as cancer; in general, the state of your overall health improves when you stay on top of your doctor and dentists visits and when you make sure to book an appointment as soon as you notice there might be something wrong.

Let’s address some of the biggest concerns patients have that stop them from booking an appointment:

Embarrassment: Yes, you might find it a little bit embarrassing to book an appointment with a doctor only to find out there’s actually nothing wrong with you, but isn’t it worth the potential awkwardness (that, in reality, is likely only experienced by you and no one else) to know for certain that you’ve done your due diligence and your health is okay? Think of what a relief it must be for a doctor too to know that at least one of their patients doesn’t need medical intervention. Consider your appointment a bright spot in a day full of medications being prescribed and referrals being dispensed. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get the peace of mind that comes with knowing for certain that you’re healthy.

Fear: Many people don’t go to the doctor because they suspect something is wrong but they don’t want to know for sure. They would rather live in ignorance than receive a diagnosis they’re dreading. The problem with living like this is the problem doesn't go away. ­Often it only gets worse until medical intervention is absolutely necessary and by that point it might be too late for your doctor to help you like they might have been able to before. The earlier you seek a diagnosis and are given treatment, the higher your chances of survival are. Don’t wait until your problem is so dire it’s impossible to hide it anymore. Make the choice to take care of your body no matter how scary it might be.

Time and/or Money: For some people, the reason for not following through on booking that doctor or dentist appointment is simple: they don’t have the time available to go in or they don’t have the money to pay for it. While the government in Canada covers most necessary medical procedures, it can be a challenge for some to pay for their dentist bills out of pocket if they don’t have insurance. It’s important to keep in mind that, in the case of your teeth, ignoring the problem and hoping for the best will likely only cause the problem to worsen so by the time you’re finally forced to come in for a visit, it’ll be far more painful, dangerous, and far more expensive than had you come in at the first sign of trouble.