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Millions of Americans Lacking Dental Care: 1800Dentist.com

By now the importance of regular dental care in the form of oral hygiene, nutrition, exercise and regular dental visits is a well-known fact. However, despite experts acknowledging the value of dental health, millions of Americans have no access to the professional dental care they need.

The findings have come courtesy of the Medicine and National Research Council. Since 1970, the independent, non-profit organization has dedicated itself to working produce unbiased opinions on medical issues as a way to improve the nation's health. The results of their latest report entitled "Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations" states that "persistent and systemic" obstacles are preventing a large collection of Americans from getting the dental care and dental treatments they need.

As a result, the nation's health is in a downward spiral. Dental neglect can have serious repercussions to an individuals’ general well being. Decreased oral health has been scientifically proven to increase the odds of developing diseases and conditions such as respiratory issues, heart disease and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and prevention have indicated that tooth decay is the most prevalent (yet preventable) chronic childhood disease in children aged 2 to 5 and affects 28 percent of that demographic. In a separate report the CDC has proclaimed that gum disease is a public health issue, as millions of Americans are unknowingly walking around with the condition. While some people are guilty of dental neglect and may know the truth, there are many hurdles that may block their access to dental care in the first place.

Dental Shortage Areas

America is a diverse country with thousands of little nooks and crannies teaming with life. Unfortunately some of those spaces do not have sufficient numbers of dental care providers to serve the needs of locals; those neighborhoods are officially called a Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). Statistics indicated that over 33 million Americans live in HPSAs for and that compounds the dental problems facing the nation.

One reason is the dental shortage impacting the nation. According to The New York Times, "Since 1990, the number of private dentists has remained roughly flat, at 150,000, even as the United States population has increased 22 percent,"(http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/business/28teeth.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1307725920-TXxhGk/udcBwKdj93SjFLw). Other studies have indicated it is not really the quantity of dental care providers causing the HSPAs, but instead where the practicing dentists are located. Either way, the imbalance is unduly impacting children, the elderly, minorities and other fragments of the population that are deemed 'vulnerable.’


Weak Dental Insurance

Barbara Bloom and Robin A. Cohen of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health Interview Statistics wrote "A primary indicator of access to dental care in the United States is dental insurance. Previous studies have shown that persons with private dental insurance have more dental visits in the previous year than persons without private dental insurance," (http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/healthcare/articles/2010/06/09/1-in-4-americans-under-65-lacks-dental-insurance). The number of dental insured Americans is on the decline, thus compounding the lack of dental care quandary.

Statistics indicate that more than 100 million Americans have no dental coverage. While some of these individuals simply cannot afford the policies on their own, others who were fortunate enough to have protection through their employers are at risk for losing the benefit as many companies are restricting the offering in order to control their payroll budgets.

Plus, those with dental insurance are discovering that they are not getting as much for their benefit as they used to. Some insiders now consider dental insurance a dying industry as while expenses for monthly premiums and dental treatments such as dental crowns, tooth extractions and root canals have increased, the dental insurance benefit paid has not. After crunching the numbers, some Americans have come to realized what a bad investment the dental coverage is.

Affordability

Preventative dental care has always been considered a costly and necessary evil as not getting preventative dental treatments can cause individuals to be saddled with expensive restorative care. Some sources indicate that every $1 invested into preventative dental care can result in savings ranging from $8 to $50 on restorative care, but the initial expense can be a deterrent. Routine dental care including checkups, cleanings and fillings can cost hundreds of dollars annually, but despite the added risk of more expensive corrective dentistry 40 million adults skipped dental care in 2005 because of the price tags (Healthpaconline.net).

While the U.S. Government has tried to address the issue in authorizing Medicaid to cover dental care for children and even approving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 to extend the program to more needy Americans, millions of individuals will still not qualify for the breaks and will instead be burdened with having to pay the expenses out of pocket. The New York Times has stated that "dental care costs are rising faster than inflation" thus compounding the affordability issue.

1-800-DENTIST encourages individuals struggling to get professional dental care to be extremely diligent in regards to their flossing and brushing behaviors. Those practices backed with eating a nutritious diet and drinking clean, fresh water can help reduce the bacteria known for causing dental problems in the first place. Then, finding a dentist on 1-800-DENTIST that is willing to work financially strapped patients courtesy of an in-house payment plan or by helping patients connect them to a third party financing provider can help Americans access the dental care they need.

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