A Third of Americans Can't Afford a Dentist

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

For some Americans, dental care means a sturdy chair, a fluoride swish, and a free toothbrush. But for one in three Americans, it's a nightmare, including astronomical bills, crippling credit card debt, panicked visits to the emergency room, and life-threatening disease.

These hardships are chronicled in a new Frontline documentary, Dollars and Dentists, which airs tonight on PBS stations. Frontline correspondent Miles O’Brien takes us behind the scenes of the documentary that explores America's broken dental system.

Frontline is produced by our partner WGBH. You can find when "Dollars and Dentists" is airing on your local PBS station here.


Miles O'Brien

Produced by:

Posey Gruener

Comments [7]

ankush abcd from Brisbane
Feb. 03 2014 07:15 AM
Michael Frey Dental from Australia

This is really good blogging about dental problems. I will bookmark it for more updates. I want to see more designs. Please share more in future.

Oct. 01 2012 02:16 AM

This should not be a surprise. Without welfare, they also can't afford their food, housing, health care, and more.

Jun. 28 2012 08:16 AM
anna from new york


Jun. 27 2012 04:39 PM

Dental care can be so difficult to access and afford for many people across the US. Hat's off to Frontline for tackling this important issue. With almost half of the population without dental insurance, much more needs to be done to help bring reasonable options for care and treatment that won't break the budget.

Dental pricing transparency is a significant issue also facing the industry. Procedure prices can vary 400% in the same neighborhood, sometimes within blocks of one another. In conjunction with Empirica research, Brighter recently released a survey on this topic and its impact on the LA area. Uninsured patients are potentially overpaying by hundreds of millions of dollars, with seniors, families, and minorities among those most impacted. For more, check out: http://www.brighter.com/research/price_transparency/los_angeles/

Fear of prices keeps many from seeking out care early on and sticker shock once care is received are gut-wrenching experiences far too familiar to many of us. Brighter.com, a dental savings plan and consumer empowerment tool, is working hard to bring affordable, quality care to the uninsured. Brighter believes in bringing transparency to dental care, letting members compare dentists based on reputation and upfront pricing. We use group buying power to pre-negotiate savings of up to 60% on dental procedures to enable our members to save and make the best dental wellness decision for themselves and their families.

Jun. 27 2012 03:19 PM
Dr Bregory Belok from New York City

As a pulbic helath dentist who is in private practice in New York City, I can confirm what everyone already knows but chooses to ignore, that dental disease, the most prevalent chronic disease in all age groups, is totally ignored in the national debate about health care in Congress and everywhere else. There are feable efforts to address dental needs in the Medicaid program, however, most dentists refuse to participate because of the low reimbursement, problems of being paid, and near total lack of quality condtrol. Basically, that type of delivery system is a failure. The only alternatives are having a private dentist or going to the hospital ER, which is unequipped to deliver dental services, a total waste of taaxpayer money. There may be some merit in reviving the community public health clinics with salaried dentists and supervised by the US Public Health Service, with incentives given to new dentist graduates to serve, like in the military services, except no politician wants to fight with organized dentistry and the dental for-profit corporations. Basically, it is "good luck" if you need dental care, you will need it.
Gregory Belok, DDS, MPH

Jun. 26 2012 09:38 AM
Listener from NYC

I haven't been to the dentist in 7 years - I haven't had dental insurance in 7 years. My employers have only offered health insurance.

Jun. 26 2012 07:36 AM

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