Don't fear the dentist

FRESNO, Calif.

A just-published Consumer Reports' survey on oral health shows most people gave their dental care a thumbs up - even when it came to root canal!

The survey of more than 50,000 Consumer Reports readers, found people who put off needed dental treatment were less satisfied with the outcome than those who bit the bullet. That's because not going to your dental appointments may lead to more extensive and more costly dental treatment in the long run.

If the prospect of a painful procedure makes you cringe, there's good news: the survey found that serious pain is rare. Only 5% of people who had a root canal said the procedure was severely painful and only 6% of people who had a tooth pulled. So if you're worried about pain, that's really not a good reason to avoid the dentist.

But the cost of care was a top concern to some. The most frequent reason for delaying dental treatment was "the procedure was too expensive." Others worried that "insurance wouldn't cover the procedure."

But the survey found that you ¬can negotiate for a better price. Among those who tried it for costly procedures - like an implant or a full denture - more than half were successful at getting the price reduced. It pays to do some research first. Websites like and give the typical cost of a procedure in your area.

And there are other ways to save. Many people don't realize that community health centers often provide dental care for fees based on your ability to pay. If you're looking for a community health center that offers dental care, Consumer Reports says call your local health department. And be aware if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, your kids have some dental coverage too.

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