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Dental Emergency: No Insurance and Toothaches Fill the ER

A dentist practicing on a dummy

Are you delaying dental care due to cost? A recent report suggests just how painful, and costly this decision could be, due to the number of individuals with no dental insurance in the United States who are getting emergency dental care at the ER.

A study by the American Dental Association found that every 15 seconds a patient comes into the ER for a dental emergency. The ADA estimates that 79% of the visits could have been better addressed by a visit to the dentist.

Emergency rooms don’t fix dental problems; they just provide care for infections and – in some cases – medication for pain management. In the very few emergency rooms that have a dentist on duty, a patient might be able to have a diseased tooth extracted. But restorative care such as crowns, root canals, and other services are not provided. Patients will still need to see a dentist to deal with the cause of their dental distress, or to get missing teeth replaced. So the end result is a bill from the emergency room, on top of the costs of the necessary visit to the dentist.

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Dental Care And Your Health

It’s also important to remember that dental disease affects more than just your smile. Poor oral hygiene is also associated with chronic infections, diabetes, heart and lung disease, and pregnancy complications. Nutrition is also affected, due to the inability to chew healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.

According to the ADA, nationwide:

  • 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 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 dental insurance.

  • Other reasons for not seeing a dentist include not having dental insurance, fear of dental work, embarrassment over the condition of one’s teeth, not having a dentist or not having the time to see a dentist.

Affordable Dental Care

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 currently 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. If you’re afraid of getting dental care, look for a dentist who specializes in working with nervous or dental-phobic patients.

Don’t have a dentist? Check out this handy dentist search tool.

No time to see the dentist? Consider the fact that you’ll spend much more time in the dentist’s chair getting expensive care to fix the problems that will occur if you neglect your teeth for a few years.

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 co-payments than the actual cost of their care. So, don’t let lack of insurance keep you from the dentist!

Some options to get low-cost dental care include:

Dental Schools: Local dental schools offer preventive dental care to the public by supervised students for free or at discounted prices. Remember, taking care of your teeth before it turns into a problem is key.

Free Clinics/Health Centers: Based on an individual’s ability to pay for dental care, these community programs also offer discounted or free services. You can also contact the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the nation’s primary resource for uninsured citizens or those who are at high risk of developing health problems if they don’t get medical/dental care ASAP.

Dental Savings Plans: The affordable, sensible alternative to dental insurance, these plans are typically priced at half the cost of a dental insurance policy. Dental savings 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.

And most plans activate within 72-hours of purchase (some activate within 24-hours), providing a cost-saving option when dental care is urgently needed.

Find out more about dental savings plans at DentalPlans.com.

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