Skipping Your Dental Check-Up Could Be a Really Expensive Idea

Health Check 12

dental check-upI received a rather shocking recommendation from my dentist the last time I went in for a routine visit. She told me that instead of coming twice a year for a check-up, she wanted to see me every four months. When I told her that my insurance only covered two visits a year, she told me that if I really cared about my dental health, I would just shell over 60-something dollars myself for the third trip. WHAT?

I thought it was a scam, but after seeing a scary report that skipping regular dental check-ups could end up costing 10 times as much money, I just might fall for it.

Say, for example, that you have a toothache. Now, a routine issue like that can often be caught through a preventative dental check-up, which typically costs somewhere between $50 and $100. But if you skip your check-up, the toothache goes untreated, and you could wind up in a lot of pain in the emergency room, which is going to cost around $1,000. Yet, that's what more and more Americans are resorting to these days; according to the report, the number of ER visits for dental problems increased 16 percent nationwide over the last three years.

Why -- especially if it costs more money? The reasons for this are two-fold. First, there is a shortage of dentists willing to treat Medicaid patients. Moreover, because of the recession and high rates of unemployment, many families have lost their dental insurance and/or cannot afford preventative dental care. In other words, people have no choice but to wait until their pain is unbearable to get help for their dental problems. What's even more worrisome is that getting treated in the ER -- instead of from a real dentist -- can be ineffective and inefficient; often these problems will return.

There have been many times in my life when I wasn't so lucky as to have dental insurance, so I not only feel sad for people in this position, I empathize with them, too. Still, it is a good reminder about the importance of doing everything you can to make it to your check-ups. If you can afford it, please be sure to go.

How often do you go to the dentist?


Image via Conor Lawless/Flickr

general health, teeth


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Kritika Kritika

I think it depends on your genetics and strength of your teeth. I have soft teeth so I tend to get a lot of cavitities despite brushing, flossing and using ACT regularly. I go every 6 months and always end up with at least 1 filling. Maybe I should go every 4 and have smaller, less invasing fillings at least.

Melis... Melissa042807

Last year, I went to the dentist A LOT. I have some deep gum pockets at the back of my mouth that just do not want to get better. I had to get special cleanings to see if we could get my gums to re-adhere to my teeth a little bit. 

THEN I got an abcess and had to get a root canal and a crown. Boooooooooo. 

Needless to say I maxed out my benefits and had to cancel my last scheduled cleaning last fall because I couldn't afford it. And now I'm pregnant so we're dealing with the cost of that. Ugh. Crap just adds up, you know? 

MegTh... MegTheGem

I didn't have access to dental care from the ages of 17-25, so even when I needed to be seen--and there were many times I NEEDED it, like when I had abcesses--I couldn't, because I also couldn't afford it. It was only after I married my soldier and got access to dental insurance that I was able to be seen. When I was 25, three years ago, I had to have a major dental overhaul. Because of all the years I wasn't able to afford the dentist, I wear partials above and below.

Kritika Kritika

I'm not being snarky when I say this but why the lapse in insurance? I worked for a few places didn't provide health insurance so I bought my own plan directly from BCBS for around $140 a month.  Sure that's a lot and I had to give up other things but my health care was more important. There are so many excuses for why people can't buy insurance yet they have cable TV and internet...people really need to prioritize.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Dental care is crazy expensive. My kids get there regular check ups and anything more before I do.. insurance or not its expensive. :/ ya just can't win. Its never enough.

Disney17 Disney17

It's super expensive and I've never had a dentist that did not screw me over. I'm very skeptical about them.

nonmember avatar Rhonda

"People really need to prioritize"-Kritika

I couldn't agree more. I gave up tv, internet, and some other expenses to give my two boys and I quality dental insurance and I don't regret a thing. Worth it.

sally... sallyjohnson48

I go to the dentist twice a year, followed by extra visits for cavities in which they catch more problems. I guess <a href="">dental in calgary</a> can be different.

Cooper Pie

Dang I had no idea about that.  But I'm afraid to tell this news to my dad because he has a huge fear of the <a href="">dentist</a>.  Because it's been almost six years since he has been to the dentist.

Jordan West

I wish someone would show this to my brother. He hasn't been to the dentist for years. A dentist in calgary even offered him half price. What are the risks of doing this?

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