"I'll do it later" seems like a great option when you're choosing between a dentist appointment and a $2 happy hour. But life has a way of making you pay for putting off the important stuff, like turning what would've been a simple cavity at your bi-annual visit into a compounded problem requiring a costly--and painful--root canal. To avoid too many coulda-woulda-shouldas, here are seven problems you should take care of right now to avoid unnecessary pain down the road.
Know what symptoms warrant a trip to your doctor: Learn the 7 Pains You Shouldn’t Ignore.
1. Nighttime Teeth Grinding
You protect your pearly whites by brushing and flossing, but you might not even realize the other dangers related to your mouth. If you constantly have a dull headache or a sore jaw, it could be a sign you grind your teeth at night, says Steven A. Ghareeb, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. "Grinding can affect the whole mouth, and if untreated, could require you to get all your teeth crowned."
It can also be an early sign of Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), which can lead to serious jaw issues. The good news: The most common fix is wearing a night guard, which your dentist can easily fit you with at your appointment--but first you have to actually go.
2. Repairing Your Credit Score
Improving your credit score is like getting in shape: It isn't going to happen overnight, there are no shortcuts, and it may be painful at times--but in the end, it's worth it. That means, just like working out, it's better to have started yesterday.
The first steps? Settle all your loan payments on time, and pay down your credit card balances--to no more than 25 percent of your card limit, advises Ryan Law, Certified Financial Planner and Director of the Center for Economic Education at the University of Missouri. These two items make up 65 percent of your credit score. You should also check your credit report at least once a year, and more often if you are thinking of making a big purchase like a house, he adds. Use a free credit report service like annualcreditreport.com.
3. Scheduling a Physical
You're not rushing to be told to turn your head and cough, but an annual physical can save your life: "Every illness I can think of has better outcomes if you catch it early," says Dr. Paul Skolnik, chairman of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. And your yearly check-up involves screening for all the majors, including heart disease, prostate cancer, skin cancer, lung disease, and diabetes.
But who you schedule it with is important. "People will go to a kidney or lung doctor for unrelated problems because they don't have a primary care doctor, but the latter is schooled and trained to follow guidelines to make sure all preventative measures are taken care of over time," Skolnik explains. Plus, seeing one doc consistently means he can better tell when something is abnormal, and he knows whether the less-frequent precautions have been taken, like boosters you only need once a decade. Find an available primary care physician easily by booking online through services like ZocDoc.
And while you're at it, make sure you know the top 10 Questions Every Man Must Ask His Doctor.
4. Setting Up Emergency Funds
You save for a rainy day, but it isn't until water is pouring through your leaky roof that you realize stocking away part of your paycheck may have been a good idea--3 years ago. Being a homeowner comes at a hefty price--and we don't just mean the initial price: Mortgage-data firm HSH Associates reports that homeowners should assume they will have to spend about 1 percent of the property's value on repairs every year. That's $3,000 on a $300,000 home. (And that's the conservative estimate.) So when you're at the bank signing a mortgage, consider asking about additional savings accounts, too.
5. Removing Your Wisdom Teeth
While most of us had them removed in high school, wisdom teeth can cause major issues later in life if you still carry them, says Ghareeb. Studies have shown that the incidence of cavities on wisdom teeth increases with age, which can also cause toothaches. Plus, you can develop chronic gum infections and even cysts around the teeth that can be cancerous. Studies also show the risk of post-op complications and recovery time for wisdom-teeth removal goes up as you get older. If you have jaw pain near your back molars and your dentist confirms with X-rays, go ahead and schedule that surgery, stat.
Want more tips for safeguarding your teeth? Steer clear of these 12 foods your dentist wouldn't eat.
6. Broken Electronics
The "silent" switch on your phone is busted. The volume key on your laptop sometimes jams. Your iPod randomly turns off. It's easy to let the small problems slide when the alternative is being without your device for more than 24 hours. But taking it back to the store or contacting the manufacturer immediately will increase the chances that the device is still within the warranty. (Apple products are covered for one year.)
And if it doesn't work right after you buy it, you have the right to demand a replacement: According to the Federal Trade Commission, almost every purchase you make is at least covered by an implied warranty, so if your noise-canceling headphones don't block the crying baby on your travels, you have the right to return them.
7. Filling Out a Will
No one likes to think about death, especially not their own--and especially not before they're well into their 70s. But if you don't record your wishes, it can cause a lot of pain and confusion for your family if the worst happens. "By the time someone is in their 30s, they should have a will, medical directives, and power-of-attorney documents filled out," says Law. "These are basic estate-planning documents that everyone needs, regardless of marital status or whether you have dependents."