With something as important as our teeth, it would be nice to think that cost was no obstacle when it comes to dental health and oral hygiene.
But unfortunately, we know that’s not the case.
The number of Google searches in a single month for “cheap dentists” might shock you, but cheap dentistry is what struggling families are looking for. As more and more connections between oral health and total-body health are discovered, the importance of professional dental cleanings and expert examinations is becoming clearer. However, the issue of “cheap dentistry” is really two separate issues.
First, there’s the upfront cost of care, and to be fair, this can be a difficult hurdle to jump. Parents see the cost of services for their children’s oral care (or their own), and the strength suddenly goes out of their knees. But it’s important to remember that the cost of dental care, especially preventative care, doesn’t begin and end with that single bill. It’s spread out over all the future problems prevented by those services — the fluoride treatment that prevents cavities, the filling that prevents further breakage and loss of teeth, and the braces that reduce the likelihood of major reconstructive surgery down the line.
The second issue is the use of the word “cheap.” It can easily conjure up images of substandard care and unsanitary conditions. The passage of the Affordable Care Act left very obvious holes in dental coverage for adults (though children’s services were deemed “essential”), and many found themselves scrambling to supplement their existing coverage. This led to a spike in searches for “cheap dentistry,” and the accompanying surge of less-than-reputable sources to fill the need.
So what’s the best way to tell the difference between an affordable dentist and a cheap one? When you walk into their office, if you’re not 100% comfortable and confident that your teeth (and the teeth of your whole family) are in good hands, you should walk right back out. A family dentist for kids and adults should put everyone at ease, exude confidence and competency, and leave no doubt whatsoever in your mind that you are getting the best care possible, no matter what the price.
A new survey by Gallup shows that 33% of Americans have not been to the dentist in at least a year. This is troubling news, especially given that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends an absolute minimum of one visit every 12 months, to prevent complications and the development of potentially serious health conditions. What could happen, and why are so many Americans neglecting critical dental care?
What You Don’t Know…
Many Americans do not realize that forgoing a trip to the dentist can, in rare circumstances, ultimately kill you. “Recent studies have also found an association between poor oral hygiene with cardiovascular disease and stroke, likely due to dislodged oral bacteria entering the bloodstream,” Fox News explains. Both heart attacks and strokes, of course, may be fatal. Finding a dentist, then, ultimately affects overall health as well as the quality and duration of patients’ lives. Poor dental and oral hygiene may also contribute to long-term, non-fatal health conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis.
Americans Still Cannot Afford A Family Dentist
“Individuals who made more than $120,000 a year were twice as likely to have visited the dentist than those who earn less than $12,000 a year,” Fox News reports of Gallup’s recent survey. In other words, a considerable number of Americans are still struggling to secure inexpensive dental care. Finding a cheap dentist — and one who offers relatively reasonable dental cleanings — is more than possible. Discounted dental clinics, emergency dentists, college dental programs, and other dentists in training all offer tooth cleaning and oral care services at lower costs.
Fear of the dentist still tops the list of common phobias. Dentists’ sharp tools — coupled with notoriously painful dental procedures like root canals — scare people away. Experts recommend being upfront about your fears. Dentists will likely be more patient; they can also explain all steps of dental procedures (and the exact function of the tools and equipment involved) to help alleviate fears. For patients who need more reassurance, sedation dentistry is also available.
Too few Americans are getting the dental care they need. Phobias and dental procedure costs deter many patients away from traditional and emergency dentists. A startling number of Americans simply do not understand the important of reliable dental care, or its impact on overall health.