Everyone brushes their teeth to prevent a cavity and promote good oral health. But the number of Americans who actually visited the dentist dropped in 2014.

While access to dental care has expanded in recent years, fewer people are choosing to get necessary and preventative dental procedures. Here are the most common reasons people avoid the dentist, along with some easy solutions.

Affordability

"While access to dental care has expanded in recent years, fewer people are choosing to get necessary and preventative dental procedures."

Any health care can be costly, and the dentist is no exception. For many families, day-to-day expenses and other bills have turned oral health into discretionary spending. Parents and caregivers often put the needs of others first and don’t prioritize their own health. Search online for low-cost clinics offering free initial exams and x-rays, as well as coupons and affordable financing options. Sign up for dental insurance through your employer or use government subsidies to buy a plan on the open market.

Convenience

Dentist's offices are staying open later and on the weekends to accommodate patients with busy schedules. Making an appointment doesn’t have to mean missing work or school anymore. Many offices are now staffing at least one person who speaks Spanish, expanding access for the growing Hispanic population.

Fear

Some people are afraid of the pain they expect from a visit to the dentist, or they don’t like getting shots. Dental problems can develop slowly, taking a long time to become bothersome, and people just acclimate to the pain. But initial dental exams won’t hurt, and any necessary dental care will hurt far less than the long-term consequences of ignoring a toothache, like gum disease and persistent infections. Other people are ashamed of their poor dental hygiene, but a good dentist won’t humiliate anyone, and a private visit is less embarrassing than bad teeth, bad breath or a denture fitting before retirement.