Even compared to the rest our shambolic health care system, American dentistry is amess. As of 2012, about 130 million individuals lacked dental insurance—and while Obamacare may have improved that figure a bit by extending coverage to more children, even families with plans still find themselves unable to afford procedures because of high out-of-pocket costs, or because providers won't accept Medicaid.
In other words, far too many people in this country can't afford to take decent care of their teeth, a point made very clear in the Federal Reserve's recent Report on the Well-Being of U.S. Households. A quarter of the survey's participants reported that they had skipped dental treatment because of the expense, which is 10 percentage points greater than the fraction who said they had missed a doctor's visit.
Of course, treating basic dental care as a luxury has consequences, since tooth problems are miserably painful and have a way of keeping people—especially kids—from doing simple things like going to work or school, or eating. As a Senate reportby Bernie Sanders put it a few years back:
Related Article: How Poor Dental Care Can Affect Your Overall Health