Overcoming Obstacles to Complete Dental Care
Question: “Dr. Arnold, I recently saw my dentist for the first time in several years, and I have a lot of work that needs to be done. This treatment consists of multiple crowns, fillings, a “special” cleaning, a few extractions, a root canal, and an implant. The total cost is almost twenty thousand dollars, and I don’t have the time or money to take care of this right now. What options do I have?”
Answer: Your situation is not all that unusual. Unfortunately, almost half of all Americans don’t visit a dentist regularly, and this often contributes to the need for extensive, costly dental treatment. You also mentioned two of the three most common obstacles people face when trying to fit comprehensive dental care into their lives.
Lack of time, financial concerns, and fear are the three most common impediments patients face to completing dental treatment. Fortunately, in most cases, all three of these issues can be dealt with effectively.
Obviously, everyone’s situation is different, and you should follow the specific advice of your dentist regarding the prioritization of your care. Ideally, emergency treatment should be attended to first, and your periodontal health should be stable before proceeding with additional treatment.
If you don’t have a lot of time for your dental care, perhaps you can have more treatment completed at each appointment to decrease the total number of appointments. Maybe you can do the most important treatment first and proceed with some of the other care as your schedule permits.
The expense of your care can generally be managed by utilizing the financing options currently available in many offices. We utilize financing plans that allow for $20,000 worth of dental work with payments as low as $400 per month. Additionally, some people choose to sequence their treatment in such a way that they pay for one phase of treatment before proceeding to the next phase.
The final and sometimes most significant obstacle to overcome is the fear of dental treatment. As I alluded to in a recent column, there are many relaxation techniques available to patients, including oral conscious sedation, that make dental more comfortable and less stressful.
Ultimately, necessary or elective treatment must fit into your life in order for you to follow through with comprehensive dental work. With a little creativity, you can probably work out a plan with your dentist that prioritizes your care and makes it manageable financially and from the standpoint of time.
Dr. Jim Arnold is a practicing dentist in Chesterton and Valparaiso. He is also a clinical mentor with the Hornbrook Group and serves on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics as the Fellowship Chairman. You may send questions to his office at: 1830 South 11th Street, Chesterton, IN 46304 or email them to: drarnold@SmilesByArnold.com. More information on this or many other dental topics can be found at www.SmilesByArnold.com.