Good dental care begins with your own efforts to maintain an appropriate regimen of dental hygiene.
It is recommended that, at a minimum, you follow these practices daily:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day. In the morning and again before bed.
Floss your teeth to remove plaque.
Use a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen teeth and minimize cavities.
Reduce or eliminate foods with high sugar content from your diet. Sugar enables plaque growth.
Avoid tobacco products which can cause gum disease.
Clean your tongue daily with a tongue clean or soft bristle toothbrush.
You should also see your dentist on a regular basis for exams and cleanings. Getting good dental care can be a serious obstacle for so many of us in the US who are unemployed, have insufficient income or have no dental plan from an employer.
Sadly, the hardest hit during these difficult economic times are children. Cavities in preschoolers are up for the first time in 50 years!
In Minnesota, dentists and hygienists are giving free care to thousands of kids who don’t have insurance. The program is called “Give Kid’s a Smile”. In Connecticut, there is an organization called “Connecticut Mission of Mercy” providing free dental care to children and adults. In South Bend, Indiana, the IUSB Dental Hygiene Clinic provides a free sealant clinic for children ages 6 to 14. The list goes on and I can’t possibly cover all the free services available across the nation in the scope of this article. It is sufficient, for our purposes here, to make you aware that these free services exist and encourage you to scan your local newspapers, the Internet and other resources to ferret out these opportunities.
Here are some additional suggestions:
Dental schools typically offer dental care at greatly reduced costs. If there is a dental school in your area, check it out.
Many communities subsidize dental clinics that provide free or reduced cost dental care to patients who qualify.
Take care of small problems before they become huge, expensive problems. Fix the $100 cavity now or face a $1500 expense for a crown later.
Many dentists will work with you on a payment plan. Explore this option.
Worldentalhealth.org is an online resource that reports free dental services and has a wealth of information to help you reduce dental care costs. Subscribe to their free newsletter.
Poor dental health can affect other aspects of your overall health. For example, there is a proven correlation between periodontal disease and stroke, heart disease and even diabetes. DO NOT neglect your dental health. Times are tough, no denying that, but with perseverance, resources can be found that are within your means. The consequences of doing nothing can be enormous, especially so for our children.
In summary, be aware that free or dramatically reduced dental care is available for children and adults. Finding it will require considerable effort on your part. Use the Internet, free at your local library; contact your local health department, dental school, dental clinic and dentist.