Why preventative dental care is 10 times cheaper than emergency care
To maintain optimal oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends all individuals schedule regular dental visits at frequencies determined by your dental professional. Typically, these range from every three months for patients with a high-risk dental health profile, to once a year for patients with a low-risk profile who are on a tight budget.
Yet, many individuals visit the dentist only in the event of an emergency. Not only does this work against creating dental health, it is often 10 times more expensive than preventative dental care. Here’s why preventative dental care is 10 times cheaper than emergency care:
Your dentist can identify problems early
Most dental issues don’t cause pain, so there’s a good chance that they will go undetected for several years between dental visits. Over time, they will worsen and create more extensive damage to the tooth. During regular dental visits, your dentist will assess your dental health and identify areas of concern before they worsen. A good dentist will also know your family history and risk profile and help create a plan to address your individual needs.
Treatment will be far less extensive (and costly)
A typical scenario I see is someone coming in for a toothache after several years away from the dentist. In most cases, the tooth is structurally compromised and an x-ray will show that the decay is into the nerve. The recommended treatment for this is a root canal, post and core and crown, which typically costs around $2,800. However, if the cavity that caused this issue was caught during a routine exam three or four years earlier, it would only cost the patient $275 to fill. The longer the patient waits, the more extensive (and costly) the treatment will be.
Emergency care is not fully-covered by insurance
Oftentimes, patients wait to receive treatment because they don’t have dental insurance. However, as you’re waiting, the problem will worsen and require more extensive – and expensive – treatment. Then, when the patient finally does get dental insurance they realize it doesn’t cover the care that they need. In fact, dental insurance typically only covers $1,500 of treatment per year. In the end, the cost ends up being much more expensive than out-of-pocket preventative care.
While the financial savings are a great reason to invest in preventative dental care, the real benefit is creating long-term dental health. A tooth with a filling is much stronger than one that requires a root canal or crown, and will be around much longer (hopefully, until you’re 100).
Think of your dental health like a long-term relationship. Except in this relationship, if you let things go south you will suffer the consequences in your everyday life. Don’t wait until you have a problem to visit the dentist. Schedule a preventative cleaning today.