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Why Going to the Dentist is Like Getting an Oil Change

Posted on August 18, 2011 | in Dental Care | by

It’s been said that an oil change every 3000 or so miles goes a long way toward maintaining the longevity of our vehicle’s engine. Jalopy or Jetsons, we’ve pretty much followed this rule as a mandatory maintenance milestone.

Whether or not that recommendation still holds true or not, was the question posed by the NY Times in an article published last September.

It seems that with advancements in fuel technology and engine components, that long standing belief might not hold water anymore…or oil.

Even in the face of this conflicting info between generational automotive axioms and technological leaps forward in everything from manufacturing to maintenance, we can still relate oral health to auto care.

Preventative Maintenance

No matter which side of the oil change debate our family resides, hopefully we can all agree that the main reason – benefit – for changing the oil is to take some preventative maintenance.

Internal engine parts need proper lubrication, changing the oil at regular intervals ensures contamination is kept to a minimum and viscosity is optimally maintained.

This precautionary action maintains optimal engine performance while also saving us money.

The idea being if we invest a small amount of money regularly toward maintaining peak engine performance, we ultimately save ourselves from having to fork over huge sums of money later for things like cracked heads, busted seals, and sludge covered valves.

If we ignore this regular attention to our vehicles, it will come back to bite us in more places than the bank account.

This same principle can be applied to dentistry too, at least from our perspective as dental patients.

Just as internal engine parts require lubrication, our teeth and gums require proper care and preventative maintenance to sustain our own optimal oral health.

Replace cracked heads with cracked teeth, and sludge covered valves with visible tartar build-up, and things start to come into focus.

We need not walk around with a busted grill just because we’ve ignored our smile appeal.

Ignore the dentist and not only will we resemble Austin Powers from the nose down and the chin up, we’ll be doing even more of a disservice to our overall health too.

It’s no secret that oral health directly correlates with overall physical health. Recent studies have linked periodontal disease to breast cancer, even to complications inhibiting conception and negatively impacting pregnancy.

This is no joke. For a little preventative dental maintenance, we can not only save ourselves money in the long run, we can also make sure our internal operating systems are at peak performance…or at least somewhere near approaching healthy.

Read more about how oral health affects overall health in this study published in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Periodontology. Researchers found that subjects who maintained a healthy weight and had high levels of physical fitness had a lower incidence of severe periodontitis.

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the supporting bone and tissues around the teeth. Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, and research has suggested gum disease is associated with other diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. (Another Reason to Stay in Shape: Healthy Teeth and Gums – perio.org)

Does a regular cleaning, oral cancer screening, and possible diabetes indicating, dental exam appointment really seem like a better choice than ignoring the inevitable?

Don’t change our oil, and our vehicle’s engines will die earlier than they should.

Don’t take care of our teeth…and we can always get dentures, right?

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of DentalPatientNews.com, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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