Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They only go when they have a problem. This is known as "crisis treatment" versus "preventive treatment." While these patients may feel they are saving money, it often ends up costing much more in dollars and time. This is because many dental problems do not have symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. An example is tooth decay. It is typical to hear, "Nothing hurts... I don't have any problems." But there is something present that needs attention.
Tooth decay often does not hurt until it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity who has never felt a thing. The dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. This early detection can help you prevent root canal treatment or even extraction.