Don't Fear the Dentist

A trip to the dentist may not be your favorite appointment.

But in Consumer Reports' survey of more than 50,000 of its readers, people who put off needed dental treatment were less satisfied with the outcome than those who bit the bullet.

Dr. Blanca Navarro who's a dentist says, "Not going to your dental appointments may lead to more extensive and more costly dental treatment in the long run."

If the prospect of a painful procedure makes you cringe, there's good news: The survey found that serious pain is rare.

Nancy Metcalf with Consumer Reports found, "Only 5% of people who had a root canal said the procedure was severely painful, and only 6% of people who had a tooth pulled. So if you're worried about pain, that's really not a good reason to avoid the dentist."

But the cost of care was a top concern to some. The most frequent reason for delaying dental treatment was "the procedure was too expensive." Others worried that "insurance wouldn't cover the procedure."

Nancy points out, "But our survey found that you -can negotiate for a better price. Among our readers who tried it for costly procedures - like an implant or a full denture - more than half were successful at getting the price reduced."

It pays to do some research first. Websites like Fair-Health-Consumer-dot-org and Health-Care-Blue-Book-dot-com give the typical cost of a procedure in your area. And there are other ways to save.

Nancy says, "Many people don't realize that community health centers often provide dental care for fees based on your ability to pay."

And it turns out, people who brush twice a day and floss every day were more likely to be happy with their smiles than those who don't.

If you're looking for a community health center that offers dental care, Consumer Reports says call your local health department to see what's in the area.
And be aware if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, your kids have some dental coverage, too.

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