We all want a great, healthy smile. So why do only 37% of Americans – yes, even the ones lucky enough to have dental insurance – visit the dentist annually, according to a survey conducted by the ADA Health Policy Institute?
Cost, of course.
Studies conducted by the ADA and several other sources, including the Federal Reserve, show that dental care is thought to be the least affordable of any health care service.
The ADA notes that “Emergency department visits for preventable oral health conditions have skyrocketed over the past decade, a trend driven mainly by young and low-income adults. Not a rosy picture. and 63% of respondents did not visit the dentist in 2015. The top reason that adults gave for not visiting the dentist is due to cost.”
Dental Care Costs
The ADA Health Policy Institute recently released a comprehensive, state-by-state report on oral health and well-being in the United States. It’s the first look at the serious impact that dental health issues are having on American adults. According to the report,
- At the national level, 29 percent of low-income adults report that the condition of their mouth and teeth affects their ability to interview for a job.
- More than two out of five low-income adults report difficulty biting and chewing because of the condition of their mouth and teeth.
- Nearly one in four report they have reduced participation in social activities because of oral health issues.
Lack of access to dental care is a particular issue for low income adults, but even half of all high-income adults say they expect to lose some of their teeth as they age. (Among low-income adults 74 percent expect to lose teeth).
Cost is the top reason for not visiting the dentist more frequently among all age and income groups, including high-income adults with private dental coverage.
Other Reasons We Don’t Go To The Dentist
For some people, the expense of getting dental care is complicated by other concerns that keep them from getting the care they need. These reasons include:
- My teeth don’t hurt – there’s no need to see the dentist
- My teeth are in such bad shape I’m embarrassed to go to the dentist
- I can’t find an affordable dentist
- I can’t find a dentist I trust
- I don’t have time to see the dentist
- I’m really afraid of the dentist
While all of these issues present challenges, the bottom-line is that the best way to control dental care costs and stay healthy is to see a dentist regularly – no matter whether your teeth are in (seemingly) great shape or you have a mouthful of broken, decayed teeth. For those who are embarrassed to get care now after years of neglecting their teeth – any good dentist will welcome you and make you feel great about taking the first step towards better dental health.
For those who can’t locate a dentist – check out our handy dental search tool.
No time to see the dentist? You’ll spend way more time in the dentist’s chair after neglecting your teeth for a few years.
Afraid of the dentist? Look for one who works with nervous or dental-phobic patients. These dentists and their staffs know just how to calm down someone who is scared of getting dental care. And remember, getting care now lessens the chance that you’ll need lengthier and more expensive treatments later.
How To Get Affordable Dental Care
Another brief from the ADA Health Policy Institute found that dental insurance isn’t the answer for many people – that 69.0 percent of adults pay more for dental insurance and their copayments than the actual cost of their care.
Dental Savings Plans are the affordable, sensible alternative to dental insurance. Typically priced at half the cost of a dental insurance policy, dental savings plans have no deductibles or co-pays, and no spending cap. Plan members save 10%-60% on dental care from a nationwide network of quality dentists, paying their reduced fee directly to the dentist. Unlike insurance, with a dental savings plan there is no paperwork to file, no pre-authorizations required before getting treatment and no annual spending limit.
Find out more about dental savings plans at dentalplans.com, or by calling 1-800-238-5163.