Patients often make decisions about their care based on their coverage status, and it doesn’t always result in the best dental health outcome for the patient. Here are some examples of what patients often do but shouldn’t:
Don’t go to the dentist at all: Some people just flat out don’t go to the dentist if they don’t have insurance. If something breaks or hurts, they see the dentist, but if not, they just don’t go. One reason this proves to be risky is because typically when something is broken or hurting, the options are usually limited and more costly than preventative or simple dental procedures. A tooth with a big cavity that needs extensive treatment now, might have only needed a simple filling a year or so ago. Ignoring dental problems never makes them go away.
Don’t go for regular hygiene appointments: Having regular hygiene appointments can decrease your chances of getting gum disease or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease doesn’t usually start causing patients pain until teeth are loose and about to fall out. It can cause foul mouth odors, stained teeth, and sore bleeding gums. Having regular hygiene appointments twice a year without dental insurance is not as cost prohibitive as you may think.
Delay recommended care until they are covered by insurance: Sometimes patients come in and put off needed care until they get insurance. Imagine this scenario, you just signed up for dental coverage with your employer, and you’re in pain. You see your dentist and he gives you a plan, but the treatment coordinator informs you that you aren’t covered by the insurance company until a waiting period passes of 6 months. A surprising number of people will cope with the pain for 6 months. They’ll spend a lot of money on pain pills, topical anesthetic gels, and other drugstore dental treatments. They’ll miss work or not be productive at work because of the pain. They won’t feel like spending time with family and friends because of the pain. They’ll lose money and time that you can’t get back. Sure, dental care has a cost associated with it, but is your time and happiness valuable to you? It’s definitely something to consider.
Search for the cheapest dentist: Some patients may go to three or four different dentists looking for the best price. The fact of the matter is most dentists fees are generally in the same neighborhood, especially in the same part of the country. Every town will have a high end price and a low end price, but most dentists by definition are in the middle. While no one can argue that the price should be fair, finding a relationship with a dentist you trust and believe in is much more important than a few dollars here and there in the long run. You want to find someone that you feel comfortable with and who will take good care of you.
Blame dental problems on lack of insurance coverage: “I didn’t have my teeth looked at for the last ten years because I didn’t have dental insurance.” Our practice is full of patients that do not have any dental insurance. Taking care of your body and your oral health is your responsibility. If you’re a parent, you are responsible for your own oral health and the oral health of your children. Insurance is a nice bonus if you have it, but not having it doesn’t remove you from your personal responsibility to take care of yourself. If you have a family and/or a job, you’ve got people counting on you to be there in good health.
Ignore Financing Options: The great news for many patients is that there are financing options available so that almost anyone can afford the care they need. Most dental offices offer Care Credit and other similar 3rd party lenders so that patients can pay over time and not feel the burden of a bill all at once.