Millions of Americans suffer from dental health problems because they cannot find affordable dental care. Unfortunately, oral health is not given the same priority that physical health is given by insurance companies, even though oral health can greatly impact your physical health.
Going to the dentist should not be a luxury, yet it is often treated as if it is. It can be very difficult to find affordable dental care, luckily there are outreach programs that can help you to see a dentist and get the care that you need.
The Facts About Dental Care
According to oral health experts prevention is the best possible route to good oral health. Of course, if you are living on a tight budget it can be hard to find the money to get the dental services that help to prevent dental problems down the road.
The inability to afford dental care means that minor problems have the opportunity to turn into major problems. For example, a cavity that needed a simple filling left unchecked can result in the need for a root canal or an extraction pretty quickly.
Many people are unable to get to the dentist for regular check-ups to catch problems early on, and it becomes a vicious cycle. If you cannot afford to go to the dentist when you have minor problems, it can be nearly impossible to afford it when you have more complex oral health problems. The more problems you have, the more the cost goes up for care.
Good oral health is so important to good overall health. A toothache left unchecked can start a chain of events in motion that some studies have connected to heart disease and other conditions. It is imperative to find affordable dental care for good health.
If you or your children are struggling to find affordable dental care, you should know you are not alone. According to a recent study:
- About 47% of adults have periodontal disease that is going untreated. Gum disease can result in tooth loss.
- About 37% of children between the age of 2-12 have never seen a dentist.
- One-third of adults in the United States report being unable to afford dental care.
Most people that are struggling to find affordable dental care, are people that are employed, not eligible for federal or state-sponsored health insurance programs, and in low-income brackets. Many people fall through this gap where they are not wealthy enough to pay for dental services out of pocket, yet not poor enough to be eligible for state or federal aid.
Many working-class Americans find themselves in this predicament. They have enough income to pay their basic bills but not a lot left over. They do not have the money to invest in dental care.
All of this bad news about dental care can be daunting, but there is a great organization that is trying to change things for people that are trying to find affordable dental care.
The Good News
If you are a resident of Florida you may be able to find affordable dental care including affordable dental care for kids. Project Dentists Care offers a wealth of resources for anyone that is struggling to find dental services for themselves and their family that will fit in their budget.
You can find affordable dental care for services like dental cleaning, fluoride treatments, simple fillings, x-rays, sealants, and other more complex services like root canals, extractions, and even dentures. Each county in Florida has clinics that specialize in providing affordable care to dental patients that are uninsured.
The Florida Dental Association established Project: Dentists Care in 1993. This non-profit provides a safety net and resources for both preventive dental services and restorative dental services. Through funding from the Florida Dental Association Foundation, private donations, and a whole lot of volunteer hours, PDC has been able to supply dental clinic services to over 43,000 patients throughout Florida.
There are over 50 dentists that donate their time and their services to help the community get the teeth care that they deserve. Clinics are held Wednesday evenings, Friday evenings, and Saturdays. This great organization is helping people to not only get the important care that they need but also to feel more confident about their smile.
A Tremendous Impact
PDC is changing people’s lives one smile at a time. Patients at PDC report things like being able to feel confident enough to get out there and find new jobs, start classes, get involved more in their community, and generally report improved quality of life.
A recent newspaper article published about PDC talks about a female patient that recently became a widow. She was missing half of her lower teeth and many of her upper. She was not only dealing with the loss of her spouse but in constant pain and dealing with infections from her teeth.
PDC stepped in and did the restorative work and got her oral health in top condition. She was overflowing with joy. Her confidence improved and she was able to focus on dealing with her grief instead of dealing with the pain and the grief.There are thousands of stories that reflect the same great feelings about the results they got from PDC.
Not being able to feel good about your smile impacts every area of your life from your social life to your professional life. It impacts how people see you. When you cannot smile because you are embarrassed by your teeth or in pain, people assume that you do not want to smile.
Another memorable story is about a young boy who was 12 years old and had never been to the dentist. He suffered from severe decay in all his front teeth. PDC dentists saw him over the course of six months and restored his teeth. His mother reports that he was getting in trouble in school fighting with other children before PDC’s care, and since his smile has been restored, he has not gotten in trouble one time.
There are so many other stories just like these two about how dental work has positively impacted someone’s life well beyond how they feel and look. Good oral health, and feeling good about your smile, pour positivity into every area of these patients’ life.
PDC is given people a reason to smile again. The network created by PDC likely includes a local dentist near you that will provide low or no-cost services. If you live in Florida PDC can help change your life.
Some of the top dentists in Florida participate in the program and use their unique skill set to help patients realize their potential and how it feels not to live in pain. It’s a great program that has helped so many people.
No Cost or Low Cost
Not all the services through PDC are free. In some cases, you may have to pay a small fee for services. There are some low-cost clinics in the network that you can make an appointment at for a dental visit with and find affordable dental care. The PDC services are income-based services.
If you do not meet the criteria for no-cost dental services, there are some dental clinics throughout the state that offer a sliding fee scale. The sliding fee is based off your income. The cost is very low cost when compared to full price dental visits. For example, if you are just above the income guidelines an extraction may cost you as little as $25. You can find affordable dental care for a wide range of dental needs through the PDC network.
The goal of PDC is to ensure that every Florida resident has access to dental care. Income guidelines set up by PDC are based on your actual income, the size of your household, and the type of dental care that you need.
Through PDC you can find affordable dental care in every county of Florida or within easy traveling distance. They host clinics throughout the state and work with community leaders to ensure that patients can find their services.
What If You Do Not Live In Florida?
You may be thinking that this is great news for people that live in Florida, but what if you need to find affordable dental care and you do not live in Florida? While PDC is a Florida based organization and serves the people of Florida, every state has a similar initiative. Dentists realize that oral health care is being denied to millions of people that are uninsured or that cannot afford the care, and they are taking action across the US to close this gap.
Here are some ways you can find affordable dental care right in your own backyard:
- Call a local dentist office and ask. Explain your situation to a local dentist, if they cannot help, they can likely direct you to a free or low-cost clinic that can.
- Call the dental association for your state. If you call your state’s dental association they will be able to give you a list of resources of low-cost or no-cost dental clinics.
- If you have a dental school in your area call them. Many times local dental schools will offer free clinics for things like cleanings, exams, and other services.
Try the Dentalifeline Network, it is a non-profit that issues grants for dental work. Call the PDC in Florida and ask them if there is a similar program in the works in your state, then get your name on the list. Dental clinic services that are affordable are very coveted services so there typically is a waiting list, but if you have an emergency like an infected tooth, you will be bumped to the top of the list for that specific treatment and may have to wait for the less critical treatments to be done.
If you have a dental school nearby that can be a great place to find affordable dental care. Last year students (students getting ready to graduate) provided dental services under the watchful eye of their professors. You can find affordable dental clinics at dental schools that offer things like dentures, implants, extractions, and more. Everything is done by the book, and typically the results are great.
If you do not live near a dental school and have a community college in your area, ask if they have a dental hygiene program. Dental hygienists have to do clinics to practice cleaning teeth. You can get a free exam and get your teeth cleaned for free. While you cannot get the work done at a community college hygiene clinic you can get more information about your oral health, and if it is in good enough condition get free teeth cleaning.
Unfortunately, you have to be persistent sometimes to get find affordable dental care, but it is so worth the effort. You may have to hear a few “no’s” before you finally get the yes that you need. Having confidence in your smile, being able to eat without pain, and improving your oral health are all worthwhile reasons to keep pushing until you get the yes.
Be Part of the Change
If your state does not have a PDC like the program, contact your state’s dental association and start lobbying for there to be one. Change comes typically with just one person deciding to get involved. Lobby your local leaders to get involved and become a part of the solution.
PDC is a wonderful service that has provided a wonderful model for other dentists to follow suit. Persuading the powers that be that spearheading the movement to establish a like program would not only be incredibly beneficial to the community but would also be a great project for them to endear themselves to the community.
PDC has been instrumental in helping other dentists combine their effort and create similar free low-cost dental clinics around the country. If your area is lacking a similar program you can be the one that brings it to the attention of the powers that be and get it started in your own neighborhood. Plenty of dentists would be interested in helping out the community and providing free dental services sometimes you just have to be the one to push for the services.