America: The Dentally Underserved Nation

The biggest hope for the uninsured Americans is given by the free dental clinics organized all across the country, and the few safety-net permanent dental clinics existent in each state. At these clinics some uninsured will have the privilege of getting the dental care they need.

Unfortunately, there are only few such dental clinics available and the demand is overwhelming. America is a dentally underserved nation, and with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act from next year the problem doesn’t seem to get a solution either…

Most of the permanent dental clinics providing free care for the uninsured are funded by grants and public donations, and the greatest majority of dentists and dental hygienists are offering their skills and time for free. Most experts agree that the solution for more people to have access to dental care is not by opening up more such free dental clinics…but by making dental insurance truly affordable.

This way, people will buy insurance and then respect all those appointments for regular checkups, dental cleanings, etc. As a result, the number of people who struggle with complex dental issues that can be resolved only through surgery and other major dental interventions will drop significantly. This is good for the patients and it is good for the state as well.

Indeed, Obamacare will bring better coverage to children up to 19 years old, but what will the poor, uninsured low income adults do?

For them, the main solution is to wait for a free dental clinic to come to their area, or to visit the emergency room when dental pain is already unbearable. This is not a solution to the problem of dental care access, but a last resort decision that people must take since their life could be threatened because of dental complications.

People who are uninsured or those who struggle and do not have enough coverage, should take into account the following important tips:

  • Buy a dental discount plan- this card will ensure a discount between 10% ad up to 60% for a wide variety of dental treatments. For an individual, the cost of such a plan is approximately $90 per year, while for a family it costs about $130
  • Pay attention to everyday dental care regimen- with regular brushing, flossing and using the mouthwash + regular dental checkups, complex issues can be easily avoided. Even the cheapest dental insurance will cover at least 1 or 2 yearly checkups and regular dental cleanings.
  • Research for dental schools in your area. Dentistry students need hands on experience so they offer a wide range of dental treatments at accessible prices, sometimes even for free. Even if you will visit a dental school to get care from a licensed faculty staff there, the costs are generally 20% lower than what you pay at your private dentist.
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