Recently, a woman with many cavities came to the dental school. Her two upper front teeth were so decayed that we almost couldn’t put crowns on them. In fact, if she had waited any longer, we would have just extracted the teeth. When I asked her why she hadn’t come to the dentist until now, she said that she thought it would cost too much money.
The treatment plan that she chose involved multiple crowns, bridge work, and many fillings. In total, her bill was nearly $5,000. Her insurance will be paying about 80% of that and she’ll only end up paying about $1,000. Furthermore, the dental school offers a payment plan that will help ease the financial burden of her portion. She told me that if she had known her insurance would cover so much, she never would have waited so long to come to the dentist.
The cost of dental care is only one reason people don’t see their dentist as often as they should. If it’s been more than six months since you last visited your dentist, ask yourself one simple question: Why don’t you go to the dentist?
In a recent survey that was published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene (Volume 84, Number 3, Summer 2010 , pp. 137-144), respondents were asked why they didn’t go to the dentist. The survey offered some reasons explaining why people might not go to the dentist and each respondent indicated whether they agreed or disagreed with each statement.
Why People Avoid the Dentist
I thought the survey uncovered the most popular reasons people have for not visiting their dentist. Here are the six most popular reasons:
1 – It costs too much – 50% agreed
2 – I cannot miss work – 34% agreed
3 – I cannot find a dentist – 30% agreed
4 – I am afraid – 27% agreed
5 – It is too far to travel – 20% agreed
6 – I do not want to go to the dentist -18% agreed
The anecdote at the beginning of this article centered around the financial concerns that prevent people from receiving dental care. Another common reason is fear. There are many people who are simply scared to go to the dentist. Some are afraid that it will be painful or uncomfortable, while others are afraid the dentist will have bad news for them regarding the condition of their teeth. This category would also probably include the people who aren’t really afraid of the dentist, they are just afraid of what the dentist will think of their teeth. Many people that come to my dental school are embarrassed to show us their teeth because they aren’t in perfect condition.
Why Don’t You Go to the Dentist?
So, what about you? If you haven’t been visiting the dentist regularly, what’s your reason? I’m curious to learn what other reasons people have for avoiding the dentist…please let us all know in the comments below!