Dental insurance is widely regarded to be crucial, but in the US, there are a staggering number of adults and children without it. Many of these people will lose thousands of valuable school and work hours due to oral-facial problems.
Most people understand that oral health directly affects their overall health. But the rate of those not insured for dental is more than 2.5 times higher than those not insured for medical. The number of low-cost clinics for dental work is far lower than low-cost medical clinics.
In light of these figures, we need to put into perspective why this matters. Up to 120 different diseases, including oral cancer, have initial symptoms that could be detected during a routine dental exam. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer caught early is 82.7 percent, dropping to 28 percent once it has started spreading. Every year 7, 600 people die of oral cancer. That makes dental exams and screenings critical to one’s health and well-being.
This being said people who do not have dental insurance report not getting routine dental exams, citing lack of insurance as a primary factor, with the cost of care close behind. With the skyrocketing costs of health insurance, and other medical care costs, there is little wonder why there are so many without dental insurance, or neglecting to schedule dental health visits.
If more health plans included dental, the rate of people requiring extractions and dentures would decrease. Studies have proven that those with dental insurance are 70 percent more likely to schedule routine preventative visits, and receive tooth saving or restorative procedures. That saves up to 15 hours and between $400 and $8,000 in fitting time and cost for dentures.
Preventative dental care will also save time and money in the area of severe pain management. Twenty-two percent of adults will report oral-facial pain in a given year, accounting for around 40 percent of the costs of chronic pain management. Many of these patients will be given narcotics, which can lead to lost productivity and possible addictions later on.
With all the health implications and cost saving, dental should be a part of every health care plan. At a minimum, these plans should include routine screenings for adults, the same as most state benefits cover for children.