7 Signs A Man Is Avoiding The Dentist
I’m a man and I’m a dentist so I feel really confident writing this blog about men avoiding dentists.
There are many reasons people avoid dentists, but I’m just talking about men. Why? Because generally, we’re the worst offenders.
It’s common knowledge among the dental fraternity that it’s the females who make dental visits happen. They do it for their families, themselves and in many cases (far too many, really), they do it for the men in their lives too.
But really, once the boy becomes a man, it’s his responsibility. That’s right, his own responsibility.
What? Missed that memo?
Somewhere along the way, men as a collective (generally) decided they’d leave the dental appointment setting to their partner, and if that didn’t work, then they’d leave it altogether.
How does that look?
It looks bad. It looks lazy. And it’s avoidance.
If you’re a man and reading this, or you know a man who needs to read this, then share it. You could be saving their lives. Seriously.
The truth is, I see a lot of male patients who should have seen me a whole lot sooner. These patients have delayed their visit to the point where my options for helping them are low to nil.
Professionally, it’s very disheartening, because there may be only very limited measures that can be taken to help that patient. Personally, it’s frustrating because I know that instead of avoiding the dentist, they could have been avoiding some serious health issues instead.
So, here are the seven signs a man’s avoiding the dentist.
#1 He says “I’ll wait and see” (the dentist)
Well if I haven’t heard this baby a thousand times.
The old “I’ll wait and see” is a classic. It’s code for “I don’t believe in prevention; I support reactive chaos”. Dental appointments, together with a whole host of other things that contribute to good health and wellbeing get put on the back burner and rarely if ever make it back onto the radar. I agree there is a time and place for wait and see, but your oral health doesn’t fall in that basket. A regular visit (every six (6) months) is actually the best way to wait and see. Seeing you regularly, your dentist can track what’s going really and identify issues before they become “situations”.
#2 He says: “It’s been a while”
It sounds like we’re having a relationship conversation and in a way, we kind of are.
I hate to break it to you guys but actually when you have a dentist who works with you, you do end up in relationship with them. Not a soul-mates-for-life relationship, but a working relationship. Your dentist is just another cog in your health support system that keeps you on track.
As a dentist, I work with all kinds of health professionals to ensure my patients receive holistic treatment. I can do that best when I know my patients well and really understand their needs. And guess what? That only happens when I see them.
#3 He’s in pain, but does nothing about it
I love this one. The classic, “I’ve had this pain for <INSERT SOME RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF TIME HERE>“.
I’m sorry, but since when is hanging on to pain (especially tooth pain) a sign of being smart and tough? At some point we men need to equate a little healthy self care with being smart and tough instead. So many of us put up with ‘stuff’ when we really don’t need to.
And do I need to repeat myself? A lot the emergency type issues we treat could have been avoided if that patient didn’t avoid me.
Go ahead. Make that appointment now on (07) 5573-0188
#4 He spends more time choosing wine, fixing his car and watching YouTube about choosing wine and fixing his cars….
This is a great avoidance technique and was probably developed very early in life. Probably around the time they left home.
You know a man is avoiding the dentist (or anything he perceives of less value than his areas of greatest interest) when he spends a silly amount of time doing it. A healthy balance? Sure thing. Obsessive and to the detriment of other areas of life. Not so much.
What I’m saying here is, we all need interests that are important to us. If we take care of our selves – and our dental care is a big part of overall health – then we’ll be in better shape to enjoy those things we really love. And your own health should really be an area of interest to you, not your partner.
Go on, I dare you. Put your dental health up there with cars and wine.
#5 He needs someone else to make the appointment
Now I know that in almost every relationship there’s an organizer and the organizer is the person who makes the appointments. Maybe you’re the provider, maybe you’re busy, maybe you’re just super important and don’t make appointments, but I’m going to make a controversial statement (and I may just lose you here):
You (yes, the man) are responsible for your own health.
Yes, really. That includes your dental health because guess what? Your dental health is an excellent indicator of your overall health. It can show the early signs of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Yet another great reason to stop avoiding and start seeing your dentist.
And it’s not hard to make an appointment. Actually, dentists now make it easier than ever. We send SMS messages, we email and we telephone. We could even send you a pigeon with a note tied to its leg if that worked for you. Really, there are just no excuses.
#6 He has sand in his hair
By this I mean he has his head in the sand.
It has confounded me for a very long time why men are so intent on avoiding the unavoidable.
Here’s a simple rule I’ve lived my life by: the longer you leave something you need to do, the worse it will be when you do it.
Ah, hello! That’s what I’m talking about.
You avoid the dentist and it will catch up with you. You will need a filling (or multiple fillings) or face a health challenge or need very expensive dental work to fix things.
Don’t be that guy. Just pick up the phone instead.
#7 He can count the number of times he’s seen the dentist in his lifetime….on one hand
I wish I was joking about this, but sadly, I’m not.
While both men and women are guilty of this, it’s the men who take out the Award for Longest Time Between Visits To A Dentist.
For these people, they will only see a dentist, like, never. And if they do ever make it to the dentist, they expect the dentist to fix it, make it work, take away the pain.
Not only is this the worst kind of dentistry – reactive, short sighted and temporary – it’s not good for the patient either. It actually short circuits their need to accept responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. It does not reflect a long term view, which is my preferred way of treating. I know, it’s out there, right?
In my practice, 90 percent of patients return every six months for their hygiene visit.
Why am I telling you this? While it’s a figure I’m happy about for me, I’m happy about it for my patients too. By returning every six months for their Hygiene Visit – a 60 minute appointment that includes a check, clean, scale and fluoride – they are taking responsibility for their good health, now and in the future. They get to enjoy more of things they love just by taking good care of themselves.
Did that commitment happen overnight? No.
Do we need to work at it? Yes! And so do our patients. We all need a coach. And together with my team, we’re like their dental coach, helping to keep them on track; helping them to avoid dental issues, rather than dentists.
A final question
I want to leave you with a final question. How long have you been avoiding the dentist?
If it’s anything longer than a year, men, I have just one thing to say: time to build a bridge and get right on over it.
Be a man. Make your own appointment. See your dentist. Feel better.
It’s really simple.
Dr Mark Miller is a dentist who specialises in treating men’s dental issues. He drives a fast car, chooses the occasional expensive wine and makes his own appointments. If you think it’s time you took better care of your dental health, make an appointment on (07) 5573-0188 to see him. Today.