Our Flint, MI, office was pleased to participate in the 14th annual Unity March and CommUNITY Expo this past weekend. Our offices are part of our communities!
If all of us were required to make a Top Ten list of where we would like to visit, not too many of those lists would include a dentist’s office. In the movies and on television, those trips have been portrayed as sweat-inducing and horrifying.
This fear, with modern dental technology, is just not justified. Gone are the days of white-knuckled patients terrified by crude dentistry.
The biggest fear in today’s world just may be the financial impact on you and your family after your visit to the dentist’s office, according to a new survey commissioned by the non-profit Children’s Dental Health Project.
A new survey reveals that dental care access and affordability continue to pose obstacles for many Americans. Nearly four in 10 adults (37%) surveyed said that during the past 12 months, either they or a family member have delayed seeing a dentist because of concerns about out-of-pocket costs.
Chances are you or someone you know has had a toothache at one time or another. Did you quickly run to the phone to make an appointment with your dentist? Chances are the answer to that question is no.
In the same survey, roughly one-third (32%) of respondents reported that either they or a family member have “a toothache or other problem with [their] teeth or gums that needs to be addressed.” These results for these two questions are virtually unchanged from September 2013.
Government certainly can play a role in allaying the financial burdens.
Even for those with excellent dental coverage, the best way to reduce such obstacles is to prevent the disease in the first place. There are important opportunities for private insurers and public programs such as Medicaid and CHIP to prioritize prevention and treat tooth decay as the chronic condition that it is. By preventing transmission, stopping the disease in its tracks and providing families with the tools they need to maintain optimal oral health, we will save money and reduce suffering.
It’s time to make going to the dentist as important as getting new glasses or getting a yearly physical. We need to shelf our fears of physical and financial consequences. Once we reach that point than we can smile from ear to ear without any fears.
Always a great day when a happy family bakes you a cake to express satisfaction for their dental care! This cake was delivered to our Battle Creek, MI office.
The current trend of Wisconsin residents using the emergency room for their dental needs is on the rise. Wisconsin residents are not alone. This trend is nationwide.
A recent report from Wisconsin Public Radio, quoting the Health Policy Institute, showed a nationwide trend of emergency room visits for dental care at a rate higher than emergency room growth overall.
In Wisconsin, the number of emergency department visits for non-traumatic dental complaints increased 20 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to the state’s Department of Health Services’ Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 Baseline and Health Disparities Report.
The numbers across the United States are also on the rise, according to various surveys.
What do these alarming statistics mean? Well for one thing, it means higher dentist bills for the patients. Emergency rooms charge much more than dentist offices.
The patients also receive less preventative care at the ER. Often the ER will only do “patchwork” type medical care rather than actually treating the cause of the problem. All this while costing more for the patient. Here is one such example from a Madison, WI man, according to Wisconsin Public Radio’s report:
Joe Seals, a 44-year-old Madison man, was recently in the ER for a filling that fell out. The pain was so bad that he avoided chewing on one side of his mouth for a whole year.
“Nothin can get in (the other side),” said Seals. “As soon as something gets in there, it drives me nuts.”
Seals said he was prescribed penicillin and pain pills — hydrocodone — in the ER, then was referred to a free clinic, the Madison Dental Initiative, for follow-up care.
Even more troubling is that many of the ER patients are young people. It becomes a habit that continues into young adulthood.
“It’s younger people,” said Paul Levine, a dentist in southeast Wisconsin and president of the Wisconsin Dental Association. “Older individuals generally have their dental home established. Younger people, that age group, seems to think they’re invincible and won’t have any problems.”
Even young children with baby teeth can have severe tooth problems. Dentists and pediatricians now recommend that children see a dentist at age 1 instead of 3.
Dental care shouldn’t be a luxury. Dental care is just as important as your visiting your eye doctor or general physician. Going to the ER is a bad solution for all involved, including taxpayers.
Many middle- and lower-income people face difficult decisions when in it comes to dental care. Living paycheck-to-paycheck forces families to use their money for only immediate needs. Preventive dental care, unfortunately, often gets put on the back burner.
The results of delaying dental care can be financially devastating — both to the families and government budgets.
According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the cost of emergency dental care versus having regular preventative dental care is staggering.
A recent Pew Center for the States study found that preventable dental problems were the primary reason for more than 800,000 emergency room visits nationwide in 2009 — up 16 percent from 2006. The same study found that Chicago-area hospitals received nearly 77,000 visits from patients with non-injury dental ailments from 2008 to 2011.
And the Chicago Dental Society said in a 2013 report that the prospects of the uninsured and underinsured to receive affordable treatment was dismal and on the decline.
For example, the study found that dental providers with the Cook County Department of Public Health served nearly 11,900 patients in 2000, but had resources to treat fewer than 5,000 in 2009. By 2011, more than half of those surveyed said they had delayed dental treatment for financial reasons.
What’s the future in dental care for lower income families? Families could turn to the state. The state does have a history of funding dental benefits for lower income adults. They also have a history of cutting those benefits.
Just three years ago, Illinois’ Medicaid dental care program was cut in a series of “reforms” ex-Gov. Pat Quinn said would “rescue the state’s Medicaid system from the brink of collapse.”
Two years later, Quinn and lawmakers restored the program with the acknowledgement that the original action was counterproductive because taxpayers paid significantly more because families used emergency rooms for care — a more costly path of service.
“A lack of dental care for low-income adults has always been an issue in the state,” said Jeanne Winsted Rosser, social services administrator for New Trier Township, which launched its own modest dental assistance program after learning from residents that many lacked insurance. “When the state makes budget cuts to dental programs, they’re not always thinking of the big picture.”
In a perfect world we all could afford dental care on our own. Life sometimes has other plans. It’s difficult to prioritize expenses when there is a limited amount of money coming in. Worrying about our bills day-by-day, week-by- week is a hard way to live. In the long run however, it is much less expensive to take a preventative stance on dental care.