Ever since you were little, either your parents, dentist or both have told you the importance of proper dental hygiene and care. You know that brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis will cut down on bad breath and lower your risk of cavities and gum disease.

But what is the big deal? If you develop gum disease or tooth decay, can not the dentist easily fix it at your six month check-up and cleaning?

Tooth decay and gum disease are bad news and not things to take lightly. Yes, cavities can be treated with fillings and crowns, but these dental procedures will cost you. Crowns, especially can be expensive and require multiple trips to the dental office.

Most American adults have some form of gum disease. Fortunately, in most cases, the severity is not that great and the disease can be stopped and reversed with professional dental procedures like deep cleaning, root planning and scaling and root canals. Sometimes improved at-home dental oral hygiene can be enough to reverse a patient's gum disease.

Like cavities, treating minor gum disease can be expensive and time-consuming with multiple appointments needed.

What happens when a patient who does not practice sufficient, proper at-home dental hygienic has moderate to severe tooth decay and gum disease?

First, the amount and invasiveness of the necessary dental procedures to treat them will increase which means more expenses, more time in the dentist chair and a longer recovery time. A root canal, for instance, will be more expensive, painful and take longer to recover from a filling or deep cleaning, for example.

There is likely going to be more pain and discomfort and one's ability to chew and bite may be hindered. If you do not daily brush and floss your teeth and the plaque builds up on your teeth and along the gum line, your teeth and gums will become more sensitive and the decay weakens them. Infection-like symptoms such as pain, discomfort, swelling and bleeding are likely to occur, which can make everyday life miserable. The discomfort can be constant or it can come about with chewing or consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.

If nothing is done about the gum disease or tooth decay and infrequent, poor dental hygiene is maintained, tooth loss and the breakdown of the jaw bone can occur. The loss of teeth and the disintegration of the jaw bones will make proper eating and clear speaking difficult. On top of that, one's once proud, bright, straight smile will be destroyed by embarassing gaps.

Patients may think that a few missing teeth are no big deal, but it is missing teeth that prevent people from smiling and experiencing the positive effects of showing off their beautiful, natural smiles. People who do not smile are seen as unhappy, negative, self-conscious and anxious. Social and professional opportunities can be missed as friends and others will avoid someone who does not smile and bosses will more likely pass over employees who do not smile, and therefore, lack confidence, for jobs and promotions.

Missing teeth can also cause other teeth to grow crooked, which will require even more dental work to be done.

Patients who do not practice daily, proper, dental hygiene risk requiring expensive, extensive dental procedures, a lower quality of life, missing teeth and compromised jaw bones.

When your dentist stresses the importance and need for proper dental hygiene , do not ignore it. You will be glad you did not in the future.