A little girl brushing her teeth

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Money in the Bank

Today’s topic is not pretty, but unless you have $8,000 earmarked to treat periodontal disease, an ounce of good dental care could prevent a lot of dental and financial pain. 

A man smiling for the camera

Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bones that hold the teeth in the jaw bone and the bone itself. Bacteria get caught between the teeth and also under the gum, forming a sticky substance called “plaque,” that hardens to form tartar.

This leads to an infection known as gingivitis. As it spreads deeper into the bone it begins to decay and pus forms, which causes swelling, redness, and bleeding. If not treated, the teeth will become loose and fall out.

Here, let me show you what advanced dental disease looks like:


Image and Art

Does that get your attnetion?! Great because there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to prevent this ugly situation and all of the very expensive treatments required to treat and (hopefully) reverse. It’s called routine preventive dental care.

If you remove the soft plaque from the gum margin around the teeth you will toughen the gum and prevent the disease. Here’s how to do that:

A close up of a bottle on the counter

Photo credit: Max Halberg

Rinse first

Yes, before you brush. You need to do this with a good dental rinse designed for pre-rinsing. Plax, is a good choice because it is designed to be used before brushing to help loosen and remove more plaque than brushing alone.


Floss between the teeth and under the gums. This is the only way to effectively remove plaque from between the teeth. If you have difficulty flossing, purchase a floss handle. Or use a water flosser.

Water Floss

If you hate to floss for any reason at all, you really need to think about investing in a Waterpik device. It is cool, fun to use, and costs a fraction of a single professional cleaning. 

Power Brush

Use a power brush such as the Oral-B Professional or Phillips Sonicare to effectively scrub and vibrate the soft plaque away. These devices are so amazing, it’s almost like getting a professional cleaning every time you brush. A power brush is well worth the investment. Just ask my personal dentist, Dr. Richard Oliver, Cypress, Calif. 


Use a rubber tip stimulator to massage the gum between the teeth. This toughens the gum and makes it more impervious to bacterial infection. Follow up by using a quality tongue cleaner for extra fresh breath. 

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Finish up your daily routine with a good fluoride mouthwash

Professional Cleaning

Your routine dental care should include a good professional cleaning at least annually. This is an appointment you need to keep! And get ready. If you are routinely performing the steps above, the hygienist will be doing the happy dance while reaching for gold stars. You’ll deserve one for doing such a great job.


So what will all of this preventive dental care cost?

  • Dental floss is cheap. You can get yards and yards of it at any drug or grocery store for a buck or two.
  • Pre-rinse and gum stimulators are inexpensive as well, in the $5 range.
  • Most rechargeable, battery-powered toothbrushes run in the $100 neighborhood.
  • There are a number of Waterpik choices, in the $75 to $150 range, depending on which one you choose.
  • Professional dental cleaning costs $75 – $200, depending mostly on your location and the individual dentist.

READ: Put a Big Smile on Your Face with a Dental Savings Plan

If you absolutely cannot afford a powered brush the best alternative is to brush with a soft-bristle, polyester toothbrush. The bristles should be pressed between the gum and the tooth surface at a 45-degree angle just as you would use a scrub brush to clean the angle between a floor and a wall. Brush horizontally, back and forth.

A systematic routine of flossing and brushing is the only way to prevent periodontal disease. Let me say that again: A systematic routine of flossing and brushing is the only way to prevent periodontal disease.

 Now, in terms of the cost of failing to prevent dental disease, let me scare you to death.


If you have gum disease with no bone damage (called gingivitis) the cost of scaling and root planing with follow-up appointments may cost up to $1,800 or more.


If there is bone damage (called periodontitis) which needs surgical intervention, the surgical fee could tack on another $4,000 to $5,000—up to $10,000 depending on the severity of the disease. If bone needs to be re-grown by various bone regenerating methods, the cost may be an additional $300 to $400 per tooth. Should you be fortunate to have all 32 of your pearly whites, well, you do the math.


If you are unfortunate to have untreatable periodontal disease, extraction of hopelessly diseased teeth could cost $200 or more per tooth.


A really cheap, full set of removable dentures will run at least $8,000; and up to $18,000 for the kind you will prefer to wear.

Here’s a Plan

Invest a little time and money on routine dental care to prevent gingivitis, periodontal and bone disease, teeth extractions, and dentures so you can spend your money on something else more enjoyable!

Published originally: 9-18-18; Updated & Republished  9-24-19

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6 replies
  1. Ron Booker says:

    It’s interesting that you said that if you don’t take care of your gum disease on time it can cause you bone damage costing you more money. I’m going to have my son go to the dentist to check his gums before it cost me more money. Thank you for helping me learn more about gum diseases. http://www.carlinopatondds.com/preventative-dentistry

  2. Cathy down on the farm... says:

    Really great tips here! I have been “swishing” my mouth daily for with a rinse of warm water and a small bit of hydrogen peroxide for decades after reading long ago, in Prevention Magazine about a 90 year old lady who did this for years and kept all of her teeth. Just don’t swallow the hydrogen peroxide! Also, oil pulling with Coconut oil is suppose to be great for your gums and teeth because it kills bacteria in the gums and teeth. Do not swallow this or spit it down the drain as it will clog drains over time and you don’t want the mouth bacteria if your system if you swallow it! I can still remember my dad, when I was a kid, brushing his tongue. He said that is where all the germs and bad breath congregate. If you have a white tongue, please brush until it is pink. I’ve passed this down to my kids and grandson. If my tongue isn’t clean, I feel awful! When I have a cold, which is rare, thankfully, I soak my toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide/water until I get through the cold so as to not prolong the cold. Not sure if this works but at least I feel like it does.

  3. Ed says:

    I was unaware until my cardiologist told me about it that there is a well-documented correlation between oral health and heart disease. Periodontal diseases can double or triple chances of heart disease and the odds are worse if you already have heart disease. Not that neglecting your oral health isn’t bad enough on it’s own but it really can have potentially life threatening implications down the road.

  4. Ed says:

    I was unaware that there is a well-documented correlation between oral health and heart disease until my cardiologist told me about it. Periodontal diseases can double or triple chances of heart disease and it is even worse if you already have heart disease. Not that neglecting your oral health isn’t bad enough on it’s own but it really can have potentially life threatening implications down the road.

  5. Angela says:

    The Orabrush tongue cleaner is a really good option. I order them from Amazon. Just replace it every three months like you should your toothbrush. Another thing I do is run my toothbrush through the dishwasher when I am doing a sanitizing cycle every two to three weeks. Of course you’ll need to replace it if you’re sick with an upper respiratory infection, sore throat or sinus infection.

  6. Brenda says:

    I just want to caution everyone on the mouthwash suggested. There are a ton of complaints about it peeling the skin off the inside of your mouth. One dental hygienist even referred to it as leaving chemical burns on the inside of your mouth!! Please read the reviews before purchasing this mouth wash!!


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