Satisfying Dental Care Needs in Raleigh

If you are relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina or the Research Triangle Park area, this information may help you find the best dentist to provide the level of care most appropriate for you and your family.

How Accessible Are Dentists in Raleigh?

In Raleigh, dental care is much more accessible than it is in many other parts of North Carolina. Raleigh is located in Wake County, which is one of eight North Carolina counties with dentist-to-patient ratios that exceed the national average. Sadly, the state of North Carolina ranks 47th in the nation in terms of dentist-to-patient ratios. While the state ranks low for dental care availability, Raleigh residents have great access compared to the rest of the United States. By combining June 2009 figures from the North Carolina Dental Board with 2008 census figures for Raleigh, one can extrapolate that there is a ratio of about one dentist per 1,350 residents.

What Kind of Quality Can I Expect?

The quality of care (as well as the number of dental providers) in Raleigh is influenced by the nearby University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, NC. Raleigh, the Research Triangle Park area, and neighboring cities and counties have exceptional access to dental care, thanks in large part to the presence of graduates of this school.

Founded in 1954, the UNC School of Dentistry has a national reputation for both research and education. Each year, the school admits about 80 students to its DDS (doctorate of Dental Surgery) program, with about 80% of those being in-state admissions. In the United States, schools of dentistry – unlike medical and law schools – have no official rankings. However, UNC is typically a top contender on unofficial lists. The nationwide respect for the UNC School of Dentistry program helps to validate the quality of dental services being provided in Raleigh by graduates of that school.

The North Carolina Dental Board is the regulating body for providers of dental services in North Carolina. Its mission is to ensure that the dental profession merit and receive the confidence of the public and that only qualified persons be permitted to practice dentistry and dental hygiene in the state of North Carolina.
What Types of Dental Providers Exist?

While the North Carolina Dental Board is the regulatory body, the North Carolina Dental Society is a professional organization that promotes the improvement of the public’s oral health and the art and science of dentistry. It encourages the maintenance of high standards of practice and competency, and represents the interests of members of the dental profession and the public that it serves. While membership in the professional organization is not mandatory, the North Carolina Dental Society provides figures that give some insight into the distribution of different types of providers of dental care in Raleigh. Raleigh members include dental providers in these commonly used categories: General Practice (142), Orthodontists (17), Oral/Maxillofacial Surgery (11), Endodontists (9), Pediatrics (8), Periodontists (7). June 2009 figures from the North Carolina Dental Board indicated that 264 dentists in Raleigh were licensed to practice General Dentistry. The combination of these two sets of numbers should provide for rough extrapolation on the number of specialized providers.

What Are the Emerging Trends in Dental Care?

In Raleigh, the provision of dental services is beginning to change, thanks to the progressive thinking of some dentists. This change involves making a broader range of dental care services available under a single roof. General dentists willing to invest in appropriate training can offer a broader range of dental care services, a concept sometimes referred to as Comprehensive Dentistry. Some also include Cosmetic Dentistry services. Having services provided under a single roof also eliminates the need to obtain consents and transfer dental records from one practice to another.

This emerging model for dental care in Raleigh has distinct advantages – one being that the dentist most familiar with the patient’s dental care and preferences can provide most, if not all, of the needed services in a familiar environment. A familiar environment can help to reduce the anxiety that some patients experience when they have to go to a (new) specialist to receive needed services. (Be assured that general dentists who provide a broader range of dental services do refer very complex cases to appropriate dental care specialists who focus on only one very specific dental care issue, and whose skills may be needed in those particular situations.)

Since specialists in Raleigh are not nearly as accessible as general dentists (see figures above), general dentists who offer a broader range of services can help provide more timely treatment for many “non-routine” dental needs (e.g., wisdom tooth extraction, periodontal treatments, orthodontics). Ask any prospective provider of dental care in Raleigh to explain the range of services the practice is making available to you, as well as the specific credentials of the dentist(s). You may also want to ask whether the practice is accredited by the state of North Carolina to perform sedation dentistry, because the state recently enacted guidelines and an accreditation process to ensure public safety in the administration of sedation in dental practices.

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Finding Free Or Low Cost Dental Care Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

The need for low-cost or free dental care will increase. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), eight out of ten people believe that taking care of their teeth and gums is a necessity, but only one-third of them say they are doing an excellent job with it.

Because of the recession there are millions of people who are uninsured and can’t afford to see the dentist. Additionally, state funded facilities are finding out that they have to decrease their services or even close because the funding is not there. The needs of the people are placing a strain on the state’s budget.

The important thing is not to panic. When having to go without services that you’ve been accustomed to receiving it can render a feeling of helplessness. Fortunately, we live in a country where there are alternative resources available where you can receive assistance. The real issue becomes how you can afford what is being offered or how to find someone that will offer their services to you for free.

There are some nonprofit organizations and resources who have taken the initiative to fill the gap left by budget cuts and closings for those in need. Unfortunately, the number of people needing assistance far out numbers the available resources.

Many physicians and dentists volunteering around the country to provide dental care to the unemployed, college students and the uninsured as a way to give back to the community. Included in this article are organizations you can search online and contact them for state and nation wide information for volunteers in your area to service your dental needs for a low cost or for free.

Local dental schools: a dental school in your area will often provide dental services for a very low cost and possibly a payment plan option. A dental school is an excellent way to go if you are on a tight budget. Skilled instructors are on hand to oversee the work of the students. For a listing of dental schools around the country, visit the ADA.org website.

Dentistry from the Heart was started to address and publicize the growing number of the uninsured and under-insured people in this country. It became a national nonprofit organization in 2007, with free dental care events all over the country. Since 2001, more than $1 million in free dental care has been provided.

The Dental Health Magazine helps locate free and affordable dental care to those who need it. The site also discusses the latest information in dental products and services.

American Dental Association (ADA.org): search site for free dental care. It will provide several organizations that provide dental care nationwide, but appears to promote programs geared towards children. The ADA is committed to reducing these disparities by supporting initiatives that broaden access to dental care for people who otherwise cannot afford it and encourage more dentists to practice in designated under served areas.

Free Medical Camps.com: provides clients the most recent and up to date information about free Medical and Dental Clinics available in the United States.

Low cost dental plans: Provide discount dental care plans that are affordable with great discount rates for dental care for you and your family. Most plans do not penalize you if you have a preexisting condition. The plan can be activated within 48 hours without long waiting periods. Additional benefits that may be included in the plan are discounts on prescriptions, vision care and more.

It is imperative that you have Internet access because most of these resources are found online. Some of them do not make the evening paper or news. Rather, you may find out about the mobile dental services by networking at clinics or other places that provide assistance for those in need. What’s important is that you don’t give up if you are not able to accomplish obtaining the care you need. Stay positive, focused and proactive in getting the care you need.

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Affordable Dental Care Available

Affordable dental care is available. Dental care may be one of the most unmet health care needs but if it’s affordable, your needs can be met. When you forgo dental care, you may be putting yourself at risk for more serious health conditions. It is bad enough that you will lose your teeth if you do not take care of them, but you may also be affecting your brain, heart, and immune system as well. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the gum disease that causes tooth loss (called periodontitis) is associated with other more serious conditions like bacterial pneumonia, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. There are other reports that indicate an unhealthy mouth may be linked to diabetes. Without the proper dental care, small cavities or painful teeth can lead to more serious conditions than just tooth decay. You should not delay making an appointment.

Affordable dental care is available for people on a budget in the form of a “discount dental plan”. What is this? It is an alternative to traditional dental insurance that allows you to see a dentist quickly without breaking your wallet. Many major insurance companies offer an affordable dental care package that offers comprehensive coverage at a discounted price. This is to help people on a budget get the care they need quickly.

Discount dental plans are different from traditional insurance in four different ways:

#1 – Instant savings. Once you have your membership, you get a discount of 10-60% off of most procedures. You pay the dentist directly for their services and there are no hidden fees. For example, you need a procedure that usually costs $249. As a member of the discount network, you are eligible for a 60% discount on that procedure. Therefore, you would only have to pay $99 to get your dental work done ($249 – 60% = $99). That’s it. No additional fees will be charged. This significantly reduced rate allows you to get affordable dental care quickly. If you need to make payment arrangements, you can discuss it directly with the dentist.

#2 No paperwork hassles. With traditional insurance, there is a lengthy waiting period that you must go through while the insurance company decides whether or not you are eligible for coverage. This is called the underwriting period. There is no lengthy underwriting period with a discount plan. Your membership is usually active within 3 business days from the time you join the discount network. If you choose coverage for your family, they will be covered at the same time you are.

#3 – No monthly premiums. There are no monthly bills to pay. Once you have your discount plan membership, you are covered for an entire year.

#4 – No deductibles. There are no deductibles to pay before your benefits kick in. Once you are a member of the network, you are fully eligible for member savings. The dentists in the network offer their dental care services to members at a significantly reduced rate.

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