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The Sound of Ideas

High Cost of a Dazzling Smile

Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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Dental insurance, for those fortunate enough to carry it, covers preventative treatments such as cleanings and exams. But if your mouth needs major work, it's time to open up your wallet, too. Why doesn't dental insurance cover procedures at the same level medical insurance does? And what happens to the 26 percent of Americans who have no dental insurance? Ideastream's multimedia coverage on oral health continues with a look at how to access, and who pays for, dental care. Tuesday at 9:00 on The Sound of Ideas.


Health, Watch Your Mouth!


Dr. Matthew Kirlough, DDS, vice chair, MetroHealth Medical Center Dental Practice dept.
Dr. Gerald Ferretti, DDS, chief of pediatric dentistry at Rainbow Babies and Children's hospital.
Ari Adler, spokesman, Delta Dental of Ohio

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James 9:32 AM 9/28/10

If you’re in your 30s with a number of dental issues wouldn’t it be easier and more economical in the long run to just get dentures?

Jessica 9:46 AM 9/28/10

Your guest suggested that Medicaid is a viable option for those without medical insurance to receive medical care and stated that a general lack of education about these resources keeps individuals from accessing Medicaid and from receiving basic dental care. However, the issue is much more complex than that - in order for an adult to qualify for Medicaid in the state of Ohio, one must not only be low income, but must also be disabled, as deemed by the Social Security Administration or the state of Ohio - a process that can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. So it does little good to refer those have “fallen on hard times” to a social worker to apply for Medicaid. As a social worker for 8 years, I believe it would be incredibly helpful if doctors learned more about eligibility requirements before suggesting Medicaid to anyone without insurance.

Barbara 9:56 AM 9/28/10

I am a 57 yr. old artist/student with no dental coverage and plenty of dental problems (a few cavities and several broken teeth that can’t be repaired - need extracting).  As a self-employed artist with no dental or medical insurance I had an ongoing dental problem that resulted in losing one of my front lower teeth - which is both very obvious and embarasing.  I have since found subsidized dental care and am thrilled to be able to get service that is affordable but the service does not include partials.  My first question is whether medicaid covers partials which I suspect it does not. So my second question is; what is the resin used to make partials and where can I get it?  As an artist I know mold making and casting but haven’t been able to find the products used in dentistry.  I’ve been cutting my own tooth from seashells and forming the base/gum with polymer clay reinforced with sterling silver wire but there’s a better way - I just don’t know where to get the resin and the lowest quote I’ve gotten is more than $1,200.  I don’t see being able to afford purchasing the partial for at least a year when I finish school and am concerned potential employers will notice and won’t be offered positions because of it. Thanks for the program and thanks for your help!

Maria 10:00 AM 9/28/10

I get so annoyed with insurance companys.  You pay out for years and then when you need them to pay for service there are always restrictions.  I just got a crown, but they only cover 50%.  I am left to pay $320 and for the past 2 years I’ve paid them that amount and then some.  It’s very frustrating!!  I wish I could do without them.

Jane Harris 10:08 AM 9/28/10

I am 68 y/o and have worn dentures since I was 21.  I got my last dentures over 20 years ago at Case Dntal School.  I need new dentures.  My bottom gums are almost nonexistent.  Where do I go from here?

Theo 10:10 AM 9/28/10

How much more evidence is necessary that the most powerful country in the world needs Universal Healthcare for its citizens? This is ridiculous already. Pass H.R. 676...Google it!

thom kelty 10:11 AM 9/28/10

Great show, let’s have more!
?: I have Delta Dental coverage up to 1700/year.
I am on quite limited Medicare income as well. Many problems with loose teeth and extractions.
How do I priortize needs:Must Do/Good to Do/Optional? I have HIV and am somewhat aware of the need to address Oral/Dental health. Thanks!

Ryan Balas 10:29 AM 9/28/10

(I will be on the road during the broadcast)

Status:  Mid 40’s, Unemployed/part time worker
No health or dental insurance but, as a Veteran, I have have the VA system for my medical (not dental) needs.

I wanted to share that as someone who works at taking care of his teeth, I did the math and found that dental insurance was a waste of money (when I had it). 

What I pay now:  Cleaning, check-up and X-Rays - $350.00.  Cleaning and check-up: under $100.00.  As long as I continue to take care of my teeth, I should be okay.

Also, my dentist participates in a program where you pay 70 dollars a year to join a system (I forget the name) and she then abides by their pricing structure for listed treatments/visits.  It is good if you know you are going to need some work.

Michele 7:31 PM 9/28/10

Gee whiz Barbara, you sound like the very definition of ingenuity. My hat goes off to you. You probably notice your missing tooth more than others do, however. Case Western University has a dental clinic, fyi.

It is beyond sad that the majority of Americans can’t get affordable dental care. I loved one of the callers comment that he figured his dentist makes approximately 400 dollars an hour. No response from the guest panel, lol.

Also, if it were that easy to get dental care via Medicaid, no one would have rotten teeth. I was taken aback that one of the panelists suggested Medicaid as an option.

Healthy teeth are considered a luxury by the medical community, evidentially. Though they all spout off about how important it is to maintain your teeth/gums. It’s quite obvious dental care is considered a luxury by the insurance industry…


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