It's Economic Pain That's Keeping Americans Away from the Dentist

Economic Pain Keeps Americans Away From the Dentist When times get tough, teeth just aren't on the top of the "take care of this now" list. And that's nothing to smile about.

The 2011 Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility conducted for Brighter.com by Empirica Research in conjunction with Dr. David Neal, professor at the University of Southern California, shows that approximately 50% of Americans lack dental insurance, and in 2010, dental premiums increased at a higher rate than medical insurance premiums.

"The recession and high unemployment rates have put more of the burden of dental care on the shoulders of already strained budgets," says Jake Winebaum, founder and CEO of Brighter.com. "As a result, our findings indicate an alarming number of people are missing their needed preventative care -- largely due to high cost and lack of insurance coverage. And something needs to be done about it."

While there's a fair amount of fear and loathing associated with going to the dentist, according to the survey, the No. 1 reason people have for delaying dental care is its high cost, followed by lack of transparency about costs, and then difficulty in finding a good dentist.

When did you last go to the dentist?
In the last 3 months.2876 (32.4%)
In the last 6 months.1744 (19.6%)
In the last 12 months.1475 (16.6%)
I haven\'t been in 5 years.2566 (28.9%)
I have never been to the dentist.123 (1.4%)
102 (1.1%)



The statistics are startling: 77% of those without dental coverage have delayed regular dental care due to its cost. Nearly 50% of parents without coverage report having delayed their children's regular dental check-ups for the same reason. That figure drops to a still high 30% among parents who do have insurance. Among those without dental coverage, 74% say they only go to the dentist when they believe they have a problem with their teeth; only 26% get preventative care. On average, those without coverage say they go to the dentist once every three years -- one sixth as often than the surgeon general's recommendation of twice a year. Almost one in three retirees with no insurance say that because of the costs, they aren't likely to go to the dentist in the next five years.

"As a parent, it is alarming that nearly half of respondents delayed care for their kids," says Winebaum. "This supports a recent [Centers for Disease Control] study that reports that cavities, a completely preventable condition, [are] up 15% in kids ages 2 to 5 over the past 10 years."

Then too, a bit of initiative could help in finding affordable dental care. Like anything else, it's all about shopping around. Brighter.com, for example, has pre-negotiated rates that it says are 20% to 60% lower than typical prices, says Winebaum.

The surgeon general has called the barriers to quality, affordable dental care a "silent epidemic," leading to 164 million hours of lost productivity a year. According to the study, those without dental insurance are dramatically less likely to get the recommended care and are therefore more likely to develop major health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, all of which are linked to poor oral health.








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Ronald

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January 12 2012 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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Regarding the lack of dental treatment due to it's cost. Once again Americans are being held hostage by a need for medical help. This time its dentists. When are we going to take the "profit-motive" out medical care? It's a total disgrace that people can't get dental care cause they can't afford it. Where is the American Denta Association in all this? It's a fact that dentists are the "highest-income" medical professionals practicing today. Mostly cause they only take cash and no insurance. GREED IS KING!

October 08 2011 at 3:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fernerobin

American dentistry (and 'dental insurance') is a giant rip-off and scam. Read below about dentists in Mexico. We are certainly not great fans of things Mexican, but the Mexican dentist can be your solution...if you can get to a small border town. American dentists are thieves in white coats. Certainly not practical for folks in N Dakota for example, but for those in the southern tier, the Mexican dentist can be the answer you are looking for....if you have the courage to try it the first time!!

October 04 2011 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jane Monk

so much easier to use services like www.heatlhsouk.com and www.1800dentist.com to find cheap dental care. I don't even take my company's dental insurance any more . . . .I end up paying about $220 / year to get my exams and cleanings so it is CHEAP!

October 04 2011 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
davidmhermes

The shadow of Dentistry is money and that's the truth.

October 04 2011 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
davidmhermes

Regarding the lack of dental treatment due to it's cost. Once again Americans are being held hostage by a need for medical help. This time its dentists. When are we going to take the "profit-motive" out medical care? It's a total disgrace that people can't get dental care cause they can't afford it. Where is the American Denta Association in all this? It's a fact that dentists are the "highest-income" medical professionals practicing today. Mostly cause they only take cash and no insurance. GREED IS KING!

October 04 2011 at 1:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TexasKitty

Dental care is extremely expensive. I have dental insurance that is included in my BS/BC and what they pay is peanuts or nothing. Dentists are not regulated and can charge whatever they want. I was told once I needed a root canal on my front tooth. I changed dentist and 15 years later the tooth is fine. Talk about used car salesmen, some of these dentists are not much better. My daughter who takes good care of her 3 children's teeth was told once that one of her twins at 6 years old had a cavity. She asked to see it and lo and behold there wasn't a cavity, The twins are now 17 and their sister 15, all 3 had braces and still no cavities. Consumers beware!

October 03 2011 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
boxigg

BECAUSE WE CAN'T AFFORD IT THAT'S WHY

October 03 2011 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bdmb4

Six months ago My teeth were in perfect shape. Last week I went and I need a crown and have five cavities. I think most dentist are a scam.

October 03 2011 at 9:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wellpullitoff

A franchised dental office, Southern Dental, broke my tooth, during the process of pulling out the temporary crown. I went to 2 lawyers to sue, I can't, either I have to die from the broken tooth, or got ill. What a real screw up. I got a jacket to cover the missing tooth (remaining part was pulled by another dentist). I have dental insurance but dental insurance are not that great. I have to pay $4000 for one tooth implant! Even if I have the money, I won't spend that much for 1 tooth. You think, I would be happy to go to any dentist???

October 03 2011 at 9:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply