Visits to the dentist are expensive, but it is worse to postpone it –

Visits to the dentist are expensive, but it is worse to postpone it


When I was 30 years old and a dentist told me I needed some crowns, I decided to skip the expensive devices because of my meager salary. Also, my teeth did not hurt.

Years later, I'm paying the price in pain and more expensive dental work. One of the damaged teeth that needed a crown distorted my bite, which worsened a minor problem of the jaw joint.

Unfortunately, I'm far from being alone. The price of dental care is high for many people from a financial, physical and even social point of view, according to Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute of the American Dental Association.

Vujicic said that most of the dental emergency room visits were for infections that could be handled in a dentist's office. In general, dental visits to the emergency room cost $ 1.9 billion per year, 40 percent of public money, according to the badysis of their data institute of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

. I feel comfortable calling that highly wasteful, "Vujicic said. "That's a very inefficient way to spend dollars."

When Angela Lombardi, who lives in Bensenville, Illinois, postponed the fillings due to the cost, the pain continued to increase and her teeth deteriorated. Eventually he had to remove five teeth at a county clinic, where the rate was low.

But that was not the end of his pain. At the age of 32, she had difficulty chewing food and was too embarrbaded to smile because of the unpleasant gaps between the remaining teeth.

"Wow, they pulled so many teeth for not having enough money to go to the dentist to look for them," said Lombardi, now 39. "When I took them out, there's an empty space and it's ugly … No you can chew, you can not smile. "

Lombardi finally found help at the College of Dental Medicine at Midwestern University in nearby Downers Grove, where he will get a bridge and be crowned for about $ 3,000.

The dental school, where care is provided by the students, charges between one third and one half of the fees charged by private dentists. "We want our students to have as solid an education as we can, and lower fees help attract and facilitate acceptance of treatment plans," said Melisa Burton, badistant dean of clinical education in the Midwest.

More people avoid dental care because of the cost than other types of medical care, according to a study in Health Affairs that was led by Vujicic.

The study showed that adults aged 19 to 64 years said they were more likely to give up dental care because of its cost than children or the elderly (12.8 percent of non-elderly adults compared to 7.2 percent of adults older and 4.3 percent of children).

Almost a quarter of adults with incomes below the poverty line said they did not receive dental care because of the cost. Even people with dental insurance avoided getting their teeth fixed due to the cost, according to the study.

People also said they did not receive the dental care they needed because of fear, inconvenient locations or appointments, and problems finding a dentist who takes their insurance. The cost, however, was the main reason.

Vujicic said that public health programs do not seem to take into account the connection between oral health and general health. Medicaid includes dental coverage for children and some states expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but 22 states do not offer dental care for adults through Medicaid, while others offer varying degrees of coverage. Markets created under ACA offer dental coverage in separate plans.

"You and I understand that the mouth is connected to the body, that the bacteria in the mouth affect the bacteria in the body, but the policies do not," Vujicic said. "There is emerging and new evidence that shows the link between chronic diseases and oral health." Oral care can help reduce the overall costs of medical care, the research found.

Vujicic advocates for greater insurance coverage, public and private. He said that adding dental coverage under Medicaid for the 22 states without it would cost between $ 1,400 and $ 1,600 million annually, but part of that would be recovered from fewer visits to the emergency room for oral care.

Jason Grinter, dentist in Rockford, Ill., Sees many patients who have left without constant dental care. He said the state's Medicaid program has been a great help to patients in Illinois, covering fillings, dentures, extractions and, in some cases, endodontics and crowns.

Grinter said he sympathized with patients who could not afford dental care or dental devices, such as partial dentures, that are not included in Illinois Medicaid for adults. He also said that private insurance often limits benefits to around $ 1,000 per year, a ceiling that has not kept pace with dental costs.

"We are all struggling, and often it is a difficult conversation between the patient and the dentist because the barrier exists [financial]," Grinter said. "It's not like someone is trying to start the price, but the price in my lab is $ 500 to $ 600 for a removable denture … If you want to add some time and materials, it's going to go up in price."

Families often make sure their children go to the dentist, Grinter said, but tight budgets mean parents will not do the same.

"They will bring their children to the dentist three or four times to get all the treatment they need," Grinter said, "but they are not willing to do that on their own."

Resignation of dental care in adulthood can mean even worse health problems in old age, according to Amber Willink, an badistant scientist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. And Medicare does not cover dental care (or vision and hearing care).

"There is the cumulative effect of postponing it, delaying it, postponing it … It's going to be much worse and much harder to manage and deal with," Willink said. "We're talking about people who have problems eating because of their dental problems."

As for Lombardi, he is looking forward to the day when he can smile again. College badistance helped, and then her boyfriend intervened with a Christmas present.

"He told me: & # 39; Your gift is that I'm going to help you get your teeth fixed," he said.

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