By Quentin Fottrell
Do Americans have more in common with their European cousins than they realized? Nearly half of Americans lack dental insurance and nearly three-quarters of those without such coverage are neglecting their teeth, a new study says. It may be a cliché, but Americans are famous for their pearly whites and porcelain veneers, while Europeans are often derided in the media for their wooden-looking teeth. If there is any truth to that, it seems the gap is closing.
More people go without dental insurance due to cut-backs in employee benefits and rising insurance premiums, according to a new study by dental comparison website Brighter.com and EmpiricaResearch.com.au in conjunction with David Neal, professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. Only a quarter without insurance visit the dentist one or two times a year. “Poor dental health is a silent epidemic in the U.S. and a trigger for serious health problems,” Neal says.
Worse, 47% of parents without dental coverage delay their children’s regular check-ups due to costs and nearly one-third of those without dental coverage have been to the dentist “only once” or “not at all” in the last decade, according to the survey. “The survey highlights that dramatic disparities in access to quality, affordable dental care persist in the U.S. today with significant results showing high costs as the strongest factors keeping people from the dentist’s chair,” Neal says.
For those who can afford the best of care, a few words of caution: A recent article in “Faculty Dental Journal” warned that some dentists are concerned about the increase in popularity of porcelain veneers. The article says that patients suffer long-term problems including dead teeth. “Tooth preparation for porcelain or ceramic veneers removes between 3% and 30% of tooth structure while 62%-73% of structure is removed when teeth are treated with ceramic crowns,” it says.
Pay Dirt readers, how often do you visit the dentist?