Dental Recession: Still Not Over

10/25/2010 10:01 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Dr. Harold Katz Founder, California Breath Clinics; Inventor, TheraBreath Oral Care System

Fall has officially arrived. The leaves are changing, the weather is becoming crisper and unfortunately the recession continues.

In a recent survey conducted by, 78 percent of dentists stated the recession is definitely not over, 18 percent said it's not over but definitely improving and 4 percent did report the recession is over at their dental practices.

While the reported improvements are good news, sadly much of the country is still on a very tight budget and regular checkups at the dentist are among one of the first costs to go. The delaying of regular dental visits could possibly result in larger dental problems (and bills) in the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that over 19 percent of children ages 2 to 19 have untreated cavities. With Halloween looming just around the corner, no doubt the extra sugar from all of the bite-sized candies won't help.

The National Center for Health Statistics states that while 172 million Americans under 65 have private health insurance, only 45 million of them have any sort of dental plan. This is enough to make parents think twice before letting their little ones out Trick-or-Treating only to come back with bags full of cavity-causing goodness that will no doubt be consumed en masse. However, proper oral hygiene that includes brushing two to three times daily, flossing and using an oral rinse can definitely help to stop sugar-loving cavities from forming. After all, completely forbidding your kids to enjoy any kind of Halloween candy would just be cruel and no doubt evoke a few costume-wearing tantrums.

But regular dental visits are important. Individuals who lack dental insurance are much more likely to suffer from gingivitis, canker sores and bad breath. This is because they miss the advice and treatments that would be offered in a regular dentist visit to avoid these problems. It isn't until a dental emergency rears its ugly head that most of us will go to visit our dentist when money is scarce.

Some patients are looking to more affordable options, such as going to dental facilities near border towns in Mexico, as in a recent article on

There are organizations nationwide that are doing what they can to offer dental services free or at a discount. In recognition of National Dental Hygiene Month (in October), Mission of Mercy will provide free services to dozens of Pennsylvania and Maryland adults who do not have dental insurance.

So while times are still hard, things do appear to be looking up. Hopefully soon we'll all be going to back to our regular dental checkups and we can let our little ones truly enjoy Halloween by eating all the candy they want, without having to worry about the cavities later.