Troublesome: The investigation found that one in three Americans - including kids - are failing to schedule regular dental check-ups
The high cost of dental work in the U.S. has spawned a concerning crisis, with an eye-opening number of Americans skipping the dentist because they cannot afford it.
A new probe has found that one in three Americans are failing to schedule regular dental check-ups because they don’t have enough money - and the results could be deadly.
The findings have come from a joint investigation by PBS Frontline and The Center for Public Integrity of dental care in the U.S.
The report, Dollars and Dentists aired last night, focusing on the ordeal of Florida girl Trinity Way, 5, who is on Medicaid, a programme that only 10 per cent of dentists in the state participate.
Trinity has gone to the emergency room to receive the dental work that her grandmother cannot afford.
Dr Frank Catalanotto, a professor at the University of Florida's College of Dentistry, told Frontline that Trinity’s case is a common one in the Sunshine State.
He said: ‘1,200 children a year in Florida get their dental care under general anaesthesia in a hospital.’
Only 25 per cent of Medicaid-eligible children get any kind of dental care.
The findings come months after it was revealed that more Americans unable to afford dental work have turned to the emergency room - a choice that often costs 10 times more than preventive care and offers far fewer treatment options than a dentist's office.
Most of those emergency visits involve trouble such as toothaches that could have been avoided with regular check-ups but went untreated, in many cases because of a shortage of dentists, particularly those willing to treat Medicaid patients, the analysis said.
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Heartbreaking: Trinity Way has gone to the emergency room to receive the dental work that her grandmother cannot afford
The number of ER visits nationwide for dental problems increased 16 per cent from 2006 to 2009, and the report released in February by the Pew Center on the States suggested that the trend is continuing.
In Florida, for example, there were more than 115,000 ER dental visits in 2010, resulting in more than $88million in charges.
That included more than 40,000 Medicaid patients, a 40 per cent increase from 2008.
Many ER dental visits involve the same patients seeking additional care.
In Minnesota, nearly 20 per cent of all dental-related ER visits are return trips, the analysis said.
That's because emergency rooms generally are not staffed by dentists.
Cost: Preventive dental care such as routine teeth cleaning can cost $50 to $100, versus $1,000 for emergency room treatment that may include painkillers and antibiotics
They can offer pain relief and medicine for infected gums but not much more for dental patients.
And many patients are unable to find or afford follow-up treatment, so they end up back in the emergency room.
'Emergency rooms are really the canary in the coal mine. If people are showing up in the ER for dental care, then we've got big holes in the delivery of care,' Shelly Gehshan, director of Pew's children's dental campaign, told The Associated Press.
She added: 'It's just like pouring money down a hole. It's the wrong service, in the wrong setting, at the wrong time.'
SHOCK FINDINGS IN DENTAL STUDY
The center in Washington, D.C., is a division of the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.
Pew researchers analyzed hospital information from 24 states, data from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and studies on dental care.
Not all states collect data on ER visits for dental care, but those that do reveal the trend, Gehshan said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2165602/Shocking-investigation-finds-affordable-dental-care-reach-1-3-Americans.html#ixzz1z1U7o3Jc