Dental Dilemma – Why Dentists Neglect Your Needs

by Dr Joe@Toronto Dentist in Etobicoke · 25 comments

Why Dentists Struggle Meeting Your Needs

Most of the people I see every day are exceptionally healthy. All they really need is hygiene maintenance with the occasional basic restorative intervention.

There’s all kinds of people out there drifting along in great need of care…

The people I see every day barely need a dentist. They self-maintain beautifully. Most have the financial resources for Advanced Dental Care, such as Crowns, Bridges, Implants and Smile Makeovers. Yet they rarely have need for such things.

There’s all kinds of people out there drifting along in great need of dental care. I call them Dental Avoiders.

These Dental Avoiders haven’t gone to a dentist in years. Mostly out of fear, embarrassment or affordability issues. Sooner or later, they’ll get into heaps of trouble.

Are you a Dental Avoider? How can dentists take care of your needs when you neglect to go?

That’s the Dental Dilemma.

So here I am caring for people who barely need me, while those in desperate situations remain huddling in the shadows with need in their mouths, fear in their hearts and no money in their pockets.

What’s the solution? That’s a tough question.

Everyone would love to have top-level care at a bargain price. Better yet, dental care for free. That way they wouldn’t have to endure both the dental treatment and paying good money for it.

Here’s a reality check.

Don’t neglect your dental needs, and don’t wish for bargains in parachutes, hand grenades and healthcare.

Wherever state-run dentistry is provided, poor teeth and low standards are the norm. When something is free, people place low value upon it. Dental Care is no exception.

Let’s take the Brits for example. They have their NHS program offering free dental care. They also love their sweets. People relax personal standards when a big safety-net eliminates the consequences.

The Brits dental NHS system has been gradually been cut back over the years. Their population’s dental health has been steadily rising as Government support for dental treatment has been cut back.

The bottom line… People will take better care of themselves when they have to pay the price for not doing so. You’re inclined to take better care of your dental needs when you’re directly exposed to the financial consequences of neglect.

There’s another force at play. The entire service aspect is stripped away when a patient ceases to be a paying customer. I never lose sight of the fact my patients are the ones paying all my bills and helping to raise my family.

Free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You get what you pay for.

My advice? Don’t neglect your dental needs and don’t wish for bargains in parachutes, hand grenades and healthcare.

Stay healthy and keep smiling!

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)

Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the owner-founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.

If you would like to learn more about your dental options, fill out our contact form or CALL 416 231-0550 for a FREE & Easy No-Obligation First Visit.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim Powers June 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm

very interesting article. reminds me how sometimes what we want isn’t necessarily what we need.


2 Toronto Dentist - Dr. Joe Bulger June 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Jim, I think I was feeling some frustration the day I wrote this. When I read the post I can see my thoughts were split in different directions.

I see some people that desperately need care but can’t afford it. And I see others that can easily afford dentistry yet have minimal needs.

There’s this growing gap between the haves and have-nots. On one hand I wish dental care was more accessible for all, and yet I know socialized dentistry would be a bad move in the long run.

Some days I feel my hands are tied and some days I get to do my best for people. When I can make a huge difference for someone, nothing feels better.


3 Dr. Milica@Etobicoke Dentist June 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Sometimes I feel that as dentists we should do more good for financially disadvantanged people. Many of us volounteer our services abroad, when there is plenty of people to help in Toronto alone. Wouldn’t it be nice to have every dental office offer free dentistry once a month? A year even?
But then, there are always people that take advantage? How can you tell who really needs it? Don’t we all?


4 Toronto Dentist - Dr. Joe Bulger June 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Hi Dr. Milica. That’s the dilemma isn’t it? How do we help these people? Taking care of people with deep needs but no means to pay is a path to financial ruin for the dentist.

I saw a young man today that hadn’t been to a dentist in 15 years. He was in great shape.

His secret? Great oral hygiene. He brushed and floss routinely. Self-reliance is a good thing.


5 dentist philadelphia January 14, 2012 at 6:37 am

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6 Brazilian Dentist October 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

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8 Felicia @ No Deposit Poker October 20, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Hi Dr. Joe,
I definitely agree about your views on this post. People only take care of themselves better when they realize that if they didn’t, they will suffer the consequences (in this case, poor dental health). I, for example, didn’t realize my teeth will really suffer until I experienced my first toothache. After that, I make it a point to really take care of my teeth by brushing regularly and visiting the dentist at least twice a year.
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9 Brazilian Dentist November 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm
10 Dental Hygienist Mississauga June 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I too agree with this. If you don’t want to pay through the roof for tons of work on your teeth, take care of them or get proper insurance but don’t look to the dentist to provide you with some kind of deal. Goodness knows they have enough on their plate and are helping the public as much as they can.


11 Mark June 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

Interesting read, thank you!


12 Tim June 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Very great article. A lot of quality information here on choosing a proper dentist.


13 dental implant Atlanta February 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thank you so much for your great blog. Keep it up. Really nice blog.


14 Milica February 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I think if more dentists were flexible to patients’ financial needs, then more people would visit the dentist regularly. People usually don’t expect dental services to be at a bargain let alone free. If dentists refuse to work with insurance companies directly, then perhaps a payment plan would help. My podiatrist lets me pay in installments prior to receiving my orthotics. What’s wrong with that?


15 RDh March 21, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Its funny how you Mr Bulgr point out that people have to pay big bucks in order to get good treatment, on the other hand there are many DDS that do get paid big bucks and still provide poor dental treatment.
Not mentioning the fact that almost every dentist i have worked with is cheap. YES some dentists are cheap and some cheaper.. I wonder why!? Is it because of greed or is it because of the overpriced dental products?


16 Dental Hygienist Las Vegas March 28, 2012 at 4:13 am

Thanks for providing us informative blog. I am totally satisfied with you because career in dental field is too hot today. There are several colleges which provide degree in this profession. I think you can earn enormous amount of money because nowadays everyone have teeth problem which is bad for them but can make quite good for you.


17 bardonsmiles April 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Hello there!!! That was surely a dilemma and that there are really those people who are denying the fact that they do need to go to the dentist. But maybe they’ll go to the dentist when time will come that it really hurts. Maybe they forgot that prevention is better than cure but in all means, they’ll gonna be the ones who will suffer.


18 Rhonda November 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

As far as the idea that getting something for free devalues it, I’m not a true believer. I believe free or nearly free dental care for low-income people should be the norm, but along with the dental work patients receive, they should also get thorough lessons on nutrition and oral hygiene, complete with horror stories of what happens if those things are neglected. In other words, educating the patient should be an important part of all health care, dental and medical.


19 tricia April 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I’m offended. I fall in the low income bracket. I brush 4 times a day and floss twice daily. I eat well, and try to keep my snacking to a minimum. This year I gave up bread, because it sticks so well in the teeth. I have periodontal disease nevertheless, and despite the attention I give my teeth, I always need work. Part of this is due to lack of information by dentists over my lifetime who are happy to take my money and clean my teeth but tell me nothing of my condition, or at least, not in a language I can comprehend. “Brush and floss.” I do. Affording a dentist is a big deal. I sometimes can barely pay my rent. When I can scrape the money together for a cleaning, I get scolded for my long absence, but there’s no explaining that it’s not out of fear or a lack of interest. I simply can’t afford it.

This past year I have started on a long mision to actually fix all the problems with my mouth, and while I am relieved to have it finally taken care of, I am now $13,000 in hock and another $2000 or so to go. I am terrified of getting another cavity, because I am already buried in the debt created by existing problems. I finished off my emergency savings a month ago, and when my dentist called to ask why I cancelled my appointment, I replied that I have no money. Did he invite me in anyway because he really feels it’s important to get this treatment done? Of course not.

This is a common story among my co workers. My dental insurance covers $800 a year. A root canal costs roughly $1500, and the crown to finish it another $1500. On my medical insurance I could go to the emergency room and have my arm amputated for $150.

Again, I’m offended.


20 Root Canal Philadelphia March 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

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21 Teddy April 29, 2014 at 4:35 am

You mentioned Brits and their poor dental health. There is an opinion that the reason for that is that Brits are the first nation that got access to refined sugar. And using lots of sugar as well as wheat products thru the centuries may be the cause of poor dental health. What is your opinion on this?


22 Joy May 16, 2014 at 3:12 am

Dr Bulger,
What arrogance, you are totally lacking in any kind of kindness, compassion, and empathy!!!


23 Dr Joe@Toronto Dentist in Etobicoke May 16, 2014 at 11:14 am

Okay Joy. As opposed to throwing rocks, please demonstrate what kindness, compassion and empathy means to you.


24 Joy May 17, 2014 at 6:37 am

Dr .Bulger,
Many people are dental avoiders as you call them (which incidentally is also rock throwing), out of fear, embarrassment, and affordability issues as you state.
But what exactly is one supposed to do if it just isn’t in one’s budget to visit a dentist regularly? Not everyone has a generous dental plan or maybe even have one at all. I myself have often had to cancel or postpone dental appointments because things were tight in my household financially. Unfortunately, if it’s a choice of paying my mortgage, food and clothing costs, and transportation costs to and from work and I’m not at that particular time, having any problems with my teeth, it is the dental appointment I must avoid. Yes I’m embarrassed when I eventually have to see the dentist. I am embarrassed to say that I did not have the money to come sooner; I am embarrassed that my teeth are not in great condition and I’m also embarrassed and fearful of the judgemental reaction, I then tend to get from the hygienists and dentist as well. Incidentally, fear of painful procedures can also be a problem.
Government run dental care (incidentally not free, it’s paid through taxes ) isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly better than than nothing at all.
When I mean when I say that you are lacking in kindness, compassion, and empathy (and upon reflection, I think I was a little harsh, and for this, I do apologize), is that you seem to think that somehow if people neglect their dental needs, it’s done out of lack of discipline, ignorance, cheapness etc., and yes I know that this is sometimes the case. I just felt that there was a very judgemental tone and a lack of understanding in the piece you had written.
I did notice that in response to another reader, you did say that you were feeling some frustration when you wrote the above piece, so I suspect, you probably didn’t mean to come across this way.


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