I know this sounds funny coming from a dentist, but the older I get, the more I like pain.

Now, let me explain. In our office, we’ll do everything we can not to create pain and stop any pain you’re already feeling. But in my nearly 40 years of practicing, I’ve never seen a bigger motivator than pain.

For example, we’ll tell someone they’ve got a cavity on this tooth and we need to fill it in and they’ll decide to put it off because it doesn’t hurt. Well, by the time it hurts, they might need a root canal, or possibly a much bigger filling, a crown, a post, and all these other things that could have been avoided if they had taken care of it before it hurt.

So waiting for pain can be very expensive, and not to mention painful.

The No. 1 myth of dental care is a lack of pain means good health. Just because it doesn’t hurt, that doesn’t mean everything is OK in your mouth.

A patient of mine happens to be a physician. He called and said his teeth were starting to get loose, so we set up an appointment. By the time he came in, one of his lower teeth had fallen out. It turns out he had severe gum disease and never knew it because he didn’t feel any pain. We finally got it under control but not before he lost six teeth.

So, how do you keep that from happening to you? The answers are simple and fairly obvious, but let’s review them.

First, take the time to properly brush and care for your teeth. Remember it takes 5 to 7 minutes to thoroughly clean your mouth. If you invest that much time each day, you’ll avoid most of these problems.

Second, have your teeth checked regularly by a dentist. Once a year is fine, and twice a year is better. Just don’t go years between checkups. Remember, if you wait for pain before going to the dentist, you could very likely be experiencing problems that could have been avoided.

Finally, when a problem is found – whether or not it is causing discomfort – deal with it right away. It most likely won’t go away or fix itself, and it will only get worse – and more expensive and painful – over time.

Well, that’s one myth debunked. In this week’s episode of the “Your Filthy Mouth” podcast, we tackle that and several other popular misconceptions about your teeth.

We also answer questions from listeners. This week, Melissa asks whether she should do anything different in caring for her teeth because she is pregnant.

Hear the answers to these questions and learn more about Your Filthy Mouth on this week’s episode. And if you have a question or comment, we want to hear it. Just click the “Ask Dr. Chuck” button or email us.

Until next week …

Charles “Dr. Chuck” Reinertsen, DMD, has been practicing dentistry in Central Florida since 1979 and is author of the book, “The Power of a Really Great Smile.” His passion is spreading the word about how the health of your mouth is intrinsically linked to the rest of your body. Learn more at www.filthymouthpodcast.com.