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Dental care

How to keep your teeth healthy without going broke

Consumer Reports magazine: February 2012

Going to the dentist is no one's idea of a good time, but the 51,768 Consumer Reports subscribers who told us about their oral health were nevertheless overwhelmingly satisfied with their dental care. In fact, they rated it higher than most other services and on a par with the care they got from their doctors. What's more, few readers reported experiencing anything beyond mild pain—even for the infamous root canal.

That doesn't mean all is well. Our survey revealed these problems:
• Only about a third of readers brushed and flossed as often as they should.
• Cost was the No. 1 reason they delayed dental care.
• Some patients might be paying for cosmetic treatments they don't need.

The experiences of our subscribers are most likely more positive than those of the public at large, in part because many of them are much better insured. Seventy-one percent of those who had at least one dental procedure in the last five years said they had dental insurance, but only 57 percent of the general public is covered, according to the National Association of Dental Plans, a trade group. "This segment of the population really appears to be getting very good dental care," says Jay W. Friedman, D.D.S., M.P.H., an expert on dental public health and quality standards from Los Angeles.

Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org to for all the details on keeping your teeth healthy without going broke.

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