Your smile is your best friend. If you take care it, it will take care of you.

It’s the immortal quote from Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe, on the 2000s seminal historic achievement of a show that chronicled the staffers of a democrat west wing. While it’s said in jest, those words couldn’t be closer to the truth. Many live to neglect their teeth, resulting in cavities, gingivitis, and tooth decay.

Worldwide, 60% to 90% of school-age children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities.

But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not everyone visits the dentist. In 2014, just 83% of children between the ages to two and 17 visited the dentist, while adults were even less likely to do so at 62%. It’s a difficult predicament as the dentist can be a scary place for many. Still, is this statistics worth it:

1 in 4 American adults avoid smiling due to the poor condition of their mouth and teeth.

Going to the dentist has innumerable benefits. These are just a few:

  • 90% of diseases, including diabetes, have oral manifestations first, which can lead to prevention or early treatment
  • Poor dental hygiene can lead to mouth or face pain
  • Mouth infections can lead to problems with organs and the heart
  • Digestive disorders can be traced back to conditions involving the mouth
  • There is a relationship between gum disease and stroke, as well as pre-term births

It seems then that going to the dentist can prevent or catch problems early on, rather than letting them grow and fester. Going to the dentist can be seen as preventative medicine against organ issues, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and, of course, mouth or face pain.

What are the signs you need to see a dentist? Here are several.

  • You have pain in your mouth, face, or neck, which could be a sign of a dental problem
  • Your gums are puffy and bleed when you floss, which could be a sign of gum disease or gingivitis
  • You try to hide your smile.
  • If you’ve had work done, such as fillings or the removal of cavities.
  • If you’re pregnant, as pregnancy can make some dental issues worse.
  • You have pain when you eat. It’s just not worth it to eat soft food all day.
  • If you use any kind of tobacco, as they affect the mouth and could lead to cancer.
  • If you’re mouth as spots and sores, which could be a sign of leukoplakia

People believe their smiles are important. Nearly three-quarters or 74% of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt their career success. And 82.5% of people saw a noticeable difference after having their teeth whitened by a dentist.

Yes, dentists have those sharp instruments which probe and prod your mouth. Yes, it is very uncomfortable sitting in that chair, all leaned back, while a dentist or dental assistant checks for different problems in your mouth. It’s difficult and not altogether enjoyable.

Healthy smiles are the value of going to the dentist. Having gingivitis, lingering soreness in the mouth, bleeding gums, or yellowing teeth, all may seem like inconsequential problems as they generally start small and grow over time, but a new smile, pearly white teeth, and less gum pain makes all the difference in the world.

Teeth whitening is an option at the dentist, as the teeth cleaning generally involves a process by which plaque is stripped off and a new polish is laid on. Home remedy teeth whitening products do the job as well, just a little more slowly. For the best teeth whitening products, a quick search on Amazon and Walgreens will pull up several.

But if you have gum pain or something more serious than yellowing teeth, try to find a local dentist immediately. A trick to find a local dentist is to look online and check out their website. Whether they are a small dentist facility or a company with several locations, the quality of their website will tell if they’re credible or not.

To find a local dentist, ask your friends and family which suit them and check out their websites from that. Working to find a local dentist that you like is important, as it will be a relationship, as any healthcare professional with you is.