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Home Home Oral Health Can't Afford the Dentist? You're Not Alone
Can't Afford the Dentist? You're Not Alone
News - WebMD Oral Health
Jupiter, FL Dentist

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Nobody loves a trip to the dentist, but for many middle-aged Americans even basic dental care is now financially out of reach, a new poll finds.

In fact, 28 percent don't have dental insurance, while 56 percent don't get dental care except for serious dental problems, researchers said.

Even more troubling is that 51 percent of people surveyed said they didn't know how they will get dental insurance after they turn 65, said lead researcher Erica Solway. She's a senior project manager at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

According to the poll, 40 percent said they don't get regular cleanings or other preventive care, Solway said.

"For the majority of folks, cost was the main barrier to dental care," she said.

Solway noted that dental clinics or dental schools often provide care at lower costs or with a sliding scale based on income.

"There are options for people who can't afford getting care from a traditional dentist's office," she said.

Regular checkups and cleanings may be the best way to prevent serious tooth or gum problems, Solway said. "Most dental problems can be prevented by getting regular preventive care."

Poor dental care also affects quality of life, Solway said. One in three of those surveyed between the ages of 50 and 64 said they were embarrassed by the condition of their teeth.

Many responders said dental problems have caused pain, difficulty eating, missed work or other health problems, Solway said. "There are a lot of social factors in play here in addition to health ones," she said.

These findings are part of a new report from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, released Sept. 7. The poll was a nationally representative sample that included more than 1,000 people ages 50 to 64.

According to the report, about 13 percent of middle-aged adults think Medicare or Medicaid will cover their dental care needs after they turn 65.

But in fact, Medicare does not cover routine dental care, and Medicaid dental coverage is often limited to children, Solway said.

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