Let’s face it — during tough economic times, some people are hesitant to go to the dentist. It’s understandable that the cost of care — especially for the uninsured or underinsured —may be challenging for someone struggling to make ends meet.

That’s why preventing dental disease is more important than ever. Establishing good oral health habits now can help to avoid potential costly and even painful problems later.

A chronic problem

Tooth decay is the number one chronic health problem among U.S. children. Approximately 20 percent have untreated decay, which can lead to pain and trouble eating, talking and learning in school. In addition, nearly one-third of adults suffer from untreated tooth decay. 

“Establishing good oral health habits now can help to avoid costly and even painful problems later." 

The good news is tooth decay is 100 percent preventable, and preventive steps are easy and inexpensive. Every $1 spent on preventive care can save up to $50 in restorative and emergency dental care.

Simple steps

Start at an early age by wiping a baby’s gums twice daily with a washcloth before his or her first tooth comes in. Help with and monitor children’s brushing habits until they master the skill, usually around age 8. Brush for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly and avoid sugary drinks. Visit a dentist for regular checkups and ask about sealants for permanent molars. Make brushing fun and educational with interesting games and consistent rituals.

Good oral hygiene habits in every stage of life are essential for a healthy mouth and body. See a dentist at the first sign of pain or infection because a small problem caught early can be treated before it turns into a bigger problem — cavities will spread if left untreated and can eventually lead to gum disease, infection and other health problems.

Take the simple steps detailed in this publication to develop good oral health habits now and save money in the long run.