During an economic downturn, we naturally look for ways to cut costs. We look for things on sale, cut back on our entertainment, and skip visits to the doctor and dentist. The problem is that skipping your dentist visits is pretty much a guaranteed way to increase your expenses.
More than one-third of American opted not to see a dentist in 2008, according to a Kaiser survey. That same year 4.6 million U.S. children went without much needed dental care because their families lacked the financial means to pay for it according to a report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. With more than 90 million Americans carrying no dental insurance, it’s perfectly understandable — people are afraid that they won’t be able to afford a visit.
Unfortunately, a report from Sageworks (a financial analysis firm) showed that in 2010, dentists nationwide reported seeing fewer patients than before the economic downturn began, but those who did come in had much bigger problems. Another survey found that 63 percent of dentists surveyed reported an increase in emergency treatments.
Skipping dental checkups is quite simply a recipe for larger emergency dental expenses.
“We have seen a radical, significant shift in dentistry away from preventative intervention and towards emergency repair,” reports Dr. Mauricio Gutierrez, president of the Central Palm Beach County Dental Association. “Pain or problems — a tooth that has already fractured, acute dental or gum abscess — are often the driving factor.”
In both the United States and Great Britain, people are opting to go to the emergency room for dental emergencies, and more than 3 million Britains have tried do-it-yourself dentistry only to end up in the emergency room after using handyman tools to perform dental procedures.
Dentists are trained to catch problems early. We would much rather fill a cavity than have you need a root canal and crown, which would cost you more than 10 or even 20 cavities. Emergency repairs are invasive, painful, and expensive — ask anybody who has had a root canal whether they would prefer that to having a cavity filled.
Another challenge is that poor oral health can have broader consequences for overall well-being. For example, advanced stages of periodontitis (or gum disease), have been associated with health problems such as stroke and heart disease. Additionally, researchers have linked periodontitis to low birth weight, premature birth, pancreatic cancer, high blood-sugar levels and even bacterial pneumonia.
Unfortunately, most people don’t view their oral health like the rest of their bodies. It gets ignored very quickly. “If you looked down at your knee right now and blood and pus were coming out of it, you’d be already in the doctor’s office,” says Dr. Lee Cohen past president of the Florida Association of Periodontists. “But the same thing going on in your mouth? People put that off.”
So if you are trying to save money right now, keep your regular dental visits. If you’ve missed one, it’s not too late to catch any problems early before they cost you a lot. To book an appointment, click here. We look forward to seeing you keep on smiling.