You're not alone in wanting to put off that trip to the dentist.
The "2011 Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility" found 77% of Americans without dental care delayed further visits due to the costs of care, while 73% of Americans don't even know what their dental care costs.
So why isn't anyone visiting the dentist? The dismal economy, of course.
"The recession and high unemployment rates have put more of the burden of dental care on the shoulders of already strained budgets," Jake Winebaum, founder and CEO of Brighter.com told Daily Finance.
If you're one of the 26% of Americans without preventative dental care, here are some tips to find quality oral care on the cheap:
- Practice preventative care at home. You've heard it before, but flossing and brushing your teeth daily will help you avoid cavities and gum disease, the things that would send you to the dentist's chair in the first place. Brush up on your dental care know-how with the American Dental Association's Oral Health Topics .
- Know the costs of care. If you're unsure of specific costs, check out this incredibly useful calculator from Braces Info. which can help you verify the costs of X-rays, cleanings, fillings, and other services. Knowing the costs might also empower you to nix pricey less-important services at your next appointment.
- Visit a dental school. Dental schools often offer cheaper dental-care than dentists do,
so if you have a dental emergency, try visiting one of the country's many top-notch dentist schools listed on Dental Site. Dental schools will work with you to determine the cost of care. For example, NYU's School of Dentistry will evaluate patients free of charge and create a treatment plan that is priced within your means. Every school is different, but most programs have walk-in, emergency care and appointment services for everybody, not just students.
- Visit the dentist on the government's dollar. Click here to find a federally funded health care center through the U.S. Department of Health. Everyone is eligible at the free clinics, it just requires a lot of waiting in line.
- Visit your county or state's dental department website for more information on local dentists and low-cost aid programs. The New York City Department of Health and L.A. County Department of Health both have an Oral Services page listing nonprofit low cost primary dental care providers. Most health service programs are only for low-income families, seniors and children, however, so keep that in mind if you don't apply.
- If you're really hurting for cash and are eligible, you can participate in a clinical trial and get free dental work. Some studies will even pay you. Check out the National Institute of Health website or ClinicalTrials.gov to see which studies you may qualify for, but remember, while studies are free, some do involve experimental drugs and techniques, so be careful!