For most of us, especially those who work in healthcare it is no surprise that according to the US Department of Labor 80% of healthcare decisions are made by women in the home. Are you the “Chief Medical Officer” in your home? Do you struggle to get certain members of your family to seek dental care? Our team at San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD’s office is comprised mostly of women. Fortunately, the males in our office are very health conscious and we don’t have to worry about them seeking preventative care, but in our own homes and for many of the patients visiting us it’s a different story.
Let’s be honest, most of us don’t look forward to going to the dentist. Hands in your mouth, droopy lips, and the dreaded poking instruments and needles. We have a secret, if you maintain your smile you will most likely only have to deal with the inconvenience of taking an hour out of your busy day twice a year and with the dentist or hygienists hands in your mouth. Cleanings and annual gum checks don’t hurt or bleed if your gums and teeth are healthy. We know that you are seeing a dentist regularly (at least twice per year) but is your spouse, no, why not? Based on a recent CDC survey, 39.5 percent of men aged 18 to 64 likely didn’t go to the dentist in 2015 (the most recent data available). As your homes CMO it can sometimes take a strategy to create change. Let’s look at the 3 reasons he might not be seeing the dentist and what we can do to try and help him make a change.
- Fear of the dentist: While most of us don’t like seeing the dentist some people are truly terrified of the experience. Many people get put off by bad memories, or friend’s stories of painful and stressful dental visits. Sometimes it is just a nagging preoccupation that something serious may (or may not) be wrong. For men, it can sometimes be hard to admit to these fears because they don’t want to be seen as less-manly or weak. Silly as it might sound too many, they might not want to tell the truth or seek help, in case they are laughed at.
- Fear of the cost of dental treatment: We all know that putting our heads in the sand like an ostrich (do they actually do that?) isn’t an effective solution to a problem but many men take this approach. If it doesn’t hurt it isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, in dentistry by the time it hurts, it is generally too late for a simple fix. Maintaining ones smile through regular dental cleaning and check-ups and daily flossing and brushing is the easiest way to save money on dental care.
- Embarrassment: Many people feel ashamed of their mouth. Whether they feel that their smiles are unattractive due to stained and cracked teeth; or fear that they have lots of cavities, feeling embarrassed about ones oral health is a very real reason that many people, often men don’t visit dentists regularly. Feelings are important to acknowledge but so is the ease of solution. At Dr. Loev’s San Francisco Dental office they have generations of patients that visit. They have continued to grow because of a non-judgmental approach to dental care and diagnosis. Life happens to all of us. Let your partner know that all that matter is moving forward with a healthy smile and body. There is a direct correlation between oral health and overall health, especially in men. Harvard medical school published a very interesting article about the correlation between oral health, full body health, and life expectancy: Mars vs. Venus: The Gender Gap in Health.
Now that we have reviewed some of the reasons that your partner might not be visiting the dentist lets figure out what we can do to help them overcome these hurdles. Many individuals might actually fall into all of the categories listed above. The solution is actually fairly straightforward and for many, our tips might seem like givens but you’d be surprised.
- Start by showing that you care and that you are empathetic to their concerns and fears and that you are aren’t judging them.
- Offer to go with your spouse to their dental visit. (If you like your dentist and have a good relationship with them, chances are that your partner will have the same feelings.)
- Review your dental plan if you have one with your partner and show them that there are many ways to make a healthy beautiful smile affordable. (For those of you fortunate enough to have dental coverage, most plans cover the majority if not all of preventative services. No dental insurance? No problem, most dentists offer either internal or external payment plans to make getting the treatment needed fit into your budget.)
- Discuss your husband’s phobias with your dental office. Many offices will suggest that they come in for a very casual first visit just to talk, take x-rays and do an oral examination. If the patient is still feeling nervous after the first visit, many dentists can prescribe medication to lessen anxiety when they come in for the next visit, usually a cleaning.
- Dentistry has come a long way over recent years. If fear is the reason that your significant other is avoiding the dentist explain that techniques and technology have changed over the years and doesn’t have to hurt or feel uncomfortable. Many dental offices offer calming music and some even have movies or videos that can be watched during treatment.
- Share the feelings of angst that you may have had before visiting your dentist and how your dental office addressed them.
As your homes CMO it’s important to not only encourage your spouse to visit the dentist but to also to set the stage for the next generation. Fear often stems from bad experiences as children. Make sure that your kids have good oral health and a positive dental foundation by making brushing and flossing fun and habitual. Take them to pedodontist when they are little. Kid’s dentists structure their offices to make them fun and entertaining for your little ones. Many pediatric dental offices have stuffed animals, videos, games, toys and treasure boxes. A positive dental experience for your children can even help encourage Dad to take action and care for his health.
Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been caring for his patients for decades from his dental office that overlooks San Francisco’s Union Square. He and his team take pride in providing the best quality and most gentle dental care available. Over the years they have transformed 100’s of “non-dentist” people into people who actually enjoy their visits and take pride in their smiles. A dental relationship should be a positive one, make sure that you feel comfortable and cared for by your dentist if the experience is “meh…” then ask friends, family, and colleagues about their dentist. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are I need or want of a new dentist. Dr. Loev and his team would love the opportunity to meet you and earn your trust and loyalty call them at 415-392-2072 or schedule an appointment online today