New Study Shows Wealthier Patients Postpone Dental Care More Often Than Poorer Patients

Many people who put off regular dental care cite cost as a deciding factor. But a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that wealthy, successful individuals — people who can certainly afford the cost of dental visits — also regularly postpone their dental care.

According to the study, just over 31% of adults who had received a bachelor’s degree or higher were nearly 100% more likely to skip a regularly scheduled dental visit, deeming it “unimportant”. And over 30% of 18-64 year olds with an income at least three times the poverty line claimed not to have gone to the dentist in the past six months — even when it was obvious that a problem was present.

So if cost isn’t a factor, what is?

Dr. Hugh Flax, a restorative and cosmetic dentist in Atlanta, says patients often fear losing work hours more than poor dental health.

“Even those who had a problem didn’t think it was that important because there were other priorities in their lives,” Flax says.

Flax often presents his argument to his too-busy patients in a language he hopes they can understand — the language of business. He prepares a brief cost-benefit analysis of early and regular dental care compared to treating and correcting problems later in life.

“It costs more money, time, and pain to deal with dental problems [once they’ve escalated],” Flax tells his patients.

But for the wealthier patients, is that persuasive enough? If a client can easily afford to completely replace their teeth later in life, are they more likely to postpone (or skip altogether) their regular visits to the dentist.

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