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America's Dental Health Crisis: Modern Life Causes More Tooth Decay, and Care Is Increasingly Unaffordable

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/08/americas-dental-health-crisis-modern-life-causes-more-tooth-decay-and-care

I would love to know how and why dental care was separated from coverage on so many health care plans. As if your teeth were somehow a separate entity from your body. Adding to this ridiculous exclusion, dental problems are often an indicator of other health maladies, such as heart disease.


My hat is off to Mary Otto…having been disabled since 1993 and suffering with broxism, grinding of the teeth caused by my PTSD, my mouth is a mess. I know a dentist a 3 hour away drive that will pull a bad tooth for 100 bucks, 170 if it’s infected but I cannot make the drive and I don’t have the money. All of my teeth literally fell apart at age 50, they just crumbled from the broxism. It is hell getting old in america when poor, don’t do it!


It might be too late for adult’s teeth, but their children could use a big dose of preventive counseling:

Avoiding sugar in all its forms will prevent decay.
Brushing and flossing daily will prevent gum disease.

That’s all it takes to stop the dental health crisis from child to adulthood.


sigh----This inhumanity has been going on for sooooo long. Remember in the movies, “Les Misreables”-----the poor sold their hair and their teeth to survive. And this was an historical fact. Who bought the teeth? The rich…yes dentist coverage should be part of all health care programs . If everyone was covered—it would all be actually cheaper for everyone.


… and do so after every time you eat…

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I gotta laugh lest I cari - I mean cry. Guess I’m fortunate - the five teeth I hope to have repaired are painless unless an abcess sets in. The dentist told me that the nerves had “calcified” - a mixed blessing, if ever there was one.

Additional note: I deeply appreciate the journalistic dedication of Mary Otto, as oral health topic leader for the Association of Health Care Journalists. … and CD for scooping the story from them.


Hi theoldgoat:
I don’t think there’s anything better to show the state of a society, then the health of a nation’s population and their teeth. I am starting to see a lot of people missing their front teeth; and not just the homeless either.
Dentists-----if more people had access to your services, this would make all of America a lot better off…homelessness and toothlessness------are treated as badly as the lowest Dalit class in India. : (


It costs me $150 to go to the dentist (bi annual cleaning/checkup)
to find out I need to spend $1500 on a new cap, or something similar .

Dentistry is a racket that hasn’t been touched in the healthcare debate. This needs to be talked about more.

I have a friend, he’s 60. He’s always been poor. couldnt afford the dentist. His teeth were so bad that late last year he just had them all pulled. Terrible. He talks about having implants, first thing, if he wins the lottery


My guess is, because its expensive.

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I hear you Phred, it’s even more expensive here. I paid $210 for checkup only, and now they want to double the yearly checkups to 4, oh and my last deep cleaning, $1200, it’s a disgrace.

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4 times a year is simply greed (unless you have a specific problem that needs constant attention)
I’m dropping back to once per year.


I wanted to read this but the excessive use of adjectives made it impossible. Editors, please.

I agree, I read a piece written about a dentist in CA. a few months ago, according to him, if you brush and floss regularly, once a year is fine unless a problem comes up before then. This dentist had paid to takeover another’s private practice and discovered over time that the past dentist had been severely over treating the patients. He sued and won a large judgement against the past dentist for fraud, made me really consider what he was saying about basic dental care.


My bet is the the American Dental Association has continuously opposed any efforts to have dental care regulated similarly to medical care. If dental care was covered by Medicare, for example, prices, which are currently outlandish, would be reduced.

Also, in contrast to the increase in the number of U.S. medical schools, I believe that the number of dental schools in the U.S. has been purposely limited.

I’ve met many people who have gone abroad for implants and crowns, which cost only a couple of hundred dollars in countries like Thialand and Brazil, rather than thousands here in the U.S.


The newly published edition of the Quarterly UCLA Alumni magazine celebrates the university’s centenial anniversary. An encomium of the school of dentistry is included. That tribute specifically relates that the school is developing a mouthwash which will prevent tooth decay. HOGWASH! It has been well known for many decades in the dental profession that a daily mouthwash with salty water wipes out three species of bacteria which promulage decay and gum disease - ON CONTACT. One species alone causes decay of tooth enamel. The other two cause gingivitis. PROPER brushing and PROPER flossing and a daily mouthwash (1 minute) with salty water, if practiced by the entire population, would wreak havoc on the dental profession. If one doesn’t believe this fact then one can proceed to do their own homework and discover the scientific reality of this simple fact for themself. Adviso: once you begin protecting your dental health in this manner, anticipate that when you tell friends and family of the fact, that the news will go in one of their ears and right out the other and they’ll look at you as though you’re from Mars. The L A Times let this secret out in one edition a few weeks following the '84 summer Olympics. Dentists weren’t very happy about that. Psychologists well understand why your family members and/or friends will look at you weirdly. But consider this: what has salt been used for throughout recorded human history?

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Big Sugar doesn’t like it when dentists and diet doctors (“Sugar is the worst poison known to man”— Dr Atkins) tell people that sugar causes tooth decay, obesity and related illnesses.

Mechanical brushing and flossing are necessary, but avoiding sugar in soft drinks, candy, etc is paramount. We can’t wipe out the normal flora (half our bodies are bacteria) but if we don’t feed bacteria sugar, they won’t secrete enough acid to cause tooth decay

Three decades ago sugar was found in “soft drinks, candy, etc.” but was less common in non-dessert foods (except thatkids breakfast cereal has always been sugary), whereas today sugar is found in bread, processed meats, sauces, condiments, and other non dessert “foods”, so it is far more difficult to avoid sugar than it has ever been.

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Hey…I mix mouthwash with hydrogen peroxide and lots of tools too…I have 8 and 1 broken :)))

You are absolutely correct! It’s a crying shame! Dental work should be considered part of overall medical health. It is not about being poor! The AVERAGE hard working person cannot afford dental treatment! What happens to your mouth affects your entire body’s health! It’s barbaric that it’s not included as a medical service. The costs of fixing your teeth or a simple exam is ridiculously high! A person needs to take out a loan just to visit their dentist. And how many dentists are incompetent and ruin your teeth? Plenty and I have a list! How many people had root canals gone bad? Or a front tooth shaved down to a toothpick because of a simple chip which now is ruined by a dentist who said they can do it because they saw dollar signs rather than compassion? The tooth now needs bonding or a veneer running from $1000 to $2000. That doesn’t include an exam, x-rays or a cleaning. And most dentists will not guarantee anything will hold. Then tell me how a front tooth is cosmetic! Can a person get a great job with a missing tooth? Look on eBay or the web to see how many people purchased these DIY teeth fix products because they cannot afford the insane dentist prices! When is our country going to wake up and cover preventive measures for dental care? Fed up with our system and just talking about it!

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