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Monday, February 27, 2023

Ocala resident voices concerns on high cost of dental care

To the Editor:

I’ve read several letters in my email about dentists in Ocala. I just wanted to add my voice. When you have an emergency on your body, you can go to the emergency room, with the exception of the dentist. The ER will give you an antibiotic, maybe pain medicine, and tell you to make an appointment with a dentist. You then get out the provider list, or the phone book if you don’t have insurance.

Most dental insurance doesn’t cover anything more than an X-ray and cleaning. You go to the dentist, they say root canal, crown, or maybe implant on one or more teeth. One tooth without insurance can be close to $2,500, and it’s much more expensive if it’s an implant.

The dentist will offer you CareCredit or something like that, but if you can’t afford it, your only other option is to pull the teeth. I personally have had to pull teeth from when I was younger and had no credit – not bad credit, just no credit and I could not qualify. I was in that position and it’s awful.

I actually had a dentist say, “Well, it’s unethical to pull a tooth that can be saved.” The ER wouldn’t pull it and the tooth had to come out. I didn’t have insurance so I ended up having to got to a dental surgeon who agreed to pull a molar. But I had to pay for X-rays again. You don’t have an alternative but to pay or pull, and it’s not affordable to repair. I take care of my teeth the best I can.

I wish instead of healthcare for all, the government would experiment and try it with dental care for all. I don’t know if a study has been done to see how many people die of tooth infections because they could not afford to get teeth repaired or pulled. Even pulling teeth is expensive – it’s close to $300 per tooth in a dentist office if you can get them to agree to pull it. The whole time, they try to make you feel awful about not having said tooth, but you know you can’t afford to keep it.

Maybe the hospital should have a dentist on call that will pull your bad tooth in an emergency. Just a thought.

Ann Tucker
Ocala resident