Last month a young Cincinnati father died as the result of a tooth infection. It made the national news. Although this 24-year-old had been advised to have oral surgery on his painful wisdom tooth, he was unemployed and uninsured. He decided to wait it out.
When his whole face began to swell, he went to the emergency room. He was prescribed pain medication and antibiotics, but decided to treat only the pain because of expenses. He did not get his antibiotic prescription filled. The infection spread to his brain and his life was cut short.
These are desperate times and it saddens me to know that this young man lost his life because of his decision, which was influenced by his joblessness and lack of health insurance. Unfortunately, he is not alone. Others are making similar choices, putting their health at risk too.
The 2011 Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility says:
- 50% of Americans lack dental insurance.
- 77% of those without dental insurance delay regular dental care.
- 74% of the noninsured only see a dentist when there’s a perceived problem.
- On average, the uninsured go to the dentist only once every three years.
- One-third of uninsured seniors say that it’s unlikely they will be seen by a dentist in the next five years – due to cost.
- About half of uninsured parents report delaying children’s regular check-ups because of financial burdens.
Suffer the Children
Let me be frank. These are horrific statistics. They affect not only adults, but also the health of tomorrow’s generation. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta report that cavity rates are up 15 percent in children ages 2 to 5 in the last decade. The U.S. Surgeon General’s office notes that an estimated 51 million school hours are lost each year because of children’s dental-related illnesses.
Dental problems are not just cosmetic. Neglecting preventive dental care has a snowball effect. Over time, health is impacted, as well as our kids’ education. (It’s hard to pay attention to the teacher or be nice to your classmates when your tooth hurts!)
Fallout of Dental Neglect
Gum and tooth infections are linked to diabetes, heart disease, tooth loss, cancer and other diseases. So skipping your children’s dental appointments not only sends them the wrong message about the value of good oral hygiene, but it also sets them up for health problems down the road.
I understand that times are hard. That’s why my FocusedCareDental office is committed to working with each patient to ensure that policy benefits are maximized. Our office manager has more than 30 years of experience in dealing with insurance companies, and she is very good at it. We know that dental insurance policies can be confusing and complex – maybe purposefully so. Every company differs. Some are easy to work with, while others are difficult.
We promise to do our best in estimating what is covered by insurance and to be transparent about out-of-pocket expenses. It’s our goal to serve families in Encino, Tarzana, Woodlands Hills and Sherman Oaks, as well as the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles. We are more than happy to set up reasonable payment plans that can be worked into your personal budgets. You may have to skip a few spiced pumpkin lattes at Starbucks, but we’ll find a way to make it work for everyone involved.
Affordable First Dental Checkup
As a matter of fact, if you are new to my FocusedCareDental.com blog, we are offering a new patient introductory checkup for only $99! This budget-friendly dental deal includes teeth cleaning with our dental hygienist, a complete exam, X-rays and a fluoride treatment. Normally, these services would cost $249. To take advantage of this offer, call (818) 385-3681 to make an appointment, mentioning this Internet special to my office staff. I hope to see you soon.
Best regards, AM
Tip of the Day: Get your baby used to dental care early. After meals, gently swab your infant’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or cotton ball dipped in water. Once his teeth erupt, switch to a soft-bristled baby brush and water. Do not use toothpaste until the child can spit – usually after age 2. Avoid using baby bottles and sippy cups as pacifiers. Prolonged exposure to sugars in milk and juice will lead to “bottle mouth” decay.