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More US citizens than ever skipping dental visits

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According to a new study performed by PBS Frontline and The Center for Public Integrity, one in three Americans are neglecting their dental care simply because they can’t afford the high price of treatments that the private system demands. The research centred on citizens of Florida and found that only around ten per cent of the state population, including children, were signed up to the dental care programme Medicaid.

Professor at the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry, Dr Frank Catalanotto, spoke to Frontline about the problems children in particular were having when attempting to access treatment; he estimates that around 1,200 minors a year have had to receive dental care whilst under general anaesthesia in hospital, because their families can’t afford the high insurance bills. There were similar findings with the adult population too; more and more people are turning to the emergency room for help, which not only offers fewer treatment options, it also costs around ten times more than preventative care would have in the first place.

In the sunshine state alone, there were more than 115,000 visits to the ER in 2010, for dental problems that could not be treated with specialist care beyond pain relief and antibiotics. Director of the children’s dental campaign at the Pew Center, Shelly Gehshan, said ‘If people are showing up in the ER for dental care, then we’ve got big holes in the delivery of care. It’s just like pouring money down a hole. It’s the wrong service, in the wrong setting, at the wrong time.’

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