After all, when your teeth are healthy, the cost of a cleanup is relatively inexpensive. Serious dental problems, however, can lead to thousands of dollars in oral surgery costs, which is why having regular access to proper dental care is important for both your health and your wallet.
Unfortunately, dental plans, if they are offered at all, are usually one of the first things that employers cut during tough economic times, as they have great difficulty in providing the most basic health care coverage. As a result, millions of Americans today are without dental insurance of any kind.
Low-income households and the unemployed are especially likely to have inadequate dental care. A report from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, for instance, reveals that only 30 percent of Americans will purchase dental insurance for themselves if their employers don’t provide coverage, and that 40 percent of those without a high school diploma have no insurance at all.
While a toothache may not seem very serious when compared to a heart attack, it can sometimes lead to fatal results. Last September, for example, a young man from Cincinnati died after a wisdom tooth infection spread and caused swelling to his brain. Even though a dentist had advised him to get the tooth pulled, he could neither afford the procedure nor the medication due to unemployment and a lack of dental coverage.
Although cases such as these are relatively rare, common dental diseases such as gingivitis can lead to problems such as extreme pain, tooth loss and even an increased chance risk of heart attack. Obtaining access to regular dental care, then, is necessary to preserve your health and quality of life.
Fortunately, there are several avenues you can take if you need to take care of a toothache but have no dental insurance. Many dental assisting schools and colleges of dentistry, for instance, provide teacher-supervised clinics that offer an array of dental services for low-income households. Even though the wait times at these clinics are often longer due to high traffic, patients can receive quality care for a fraction of the cost of private dental practices.
Some private practices also offer charity services for those who qualify. Each year on Christmas Eve, for example, the Comfort Dental Group hosts “Care Day,” which provides free dental care at branch offices throughout the country. In the Loveland, Colorado office, for example, walk-in patients can receive checkups, cleaning and basic procedures such as tooth fillings.
Even if you can’t find free care in your neighborhood, there are many private practices and state-subsidized clinics that offer sliding-scale fees or payment plans for those without insurance. Discount dental insurance networks may also provide more affordable coverage, but consumers are urged to avoid scams by carefully researching these plans first.
With all these options available, there is no reason to avoid the dentist, especially when your health could be at stake. If you are having trouble finding a dentist on your own, dental assisting schools, clinics and your local health department can help guide you in the right direction.