July 16, 2013 08:00 ET

New Study Shows Many Americans Can't Afford to Take Care of Their Teeth

Lack of Access to Affordable Preventative Care Results in Compounded Long-Term Costs

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Jul 16, 2013) - Of the more than 148 million Americans -- nearly half of the population -- who lack dental insurance, 56 percent seek no preventative care at all and 18 percent haven't been to the dentist in the last 10 years, according to a nationwide survey released today by Empirica Research and, a free alternative to dental insurance. Consumers cite cost and fear of sticker shock as the top two reasons for holding off on the care they need double the number of those who delay due to the fear of pain.

The 2013 Annual Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility also found that 42 percent of parents without insurance have delayed dental care for their children due to cost. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, dental disease, including untreated cavities, is more common in U.S. children than any other chronic disease. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than allergies1.

Additional findings from this survey include:

  • 62% of uninsured Americans and 44% of insured Americans have delayed dental care due to low price transparency in the market.
  • Among uninsured Americans, nearly 70% have at least one major unmet dental care need (e.g., missing teeth, bleeding gums, toothache).
  • Even among insured Americans, a majority (57%) currently have an unmet dental need.
  • Nationally, 54% of the uninsured have not seen a dentist in the last year and 12% expect not to go in the next 5 years. 

The 2013 survey is a nationally representative study that gauges the current state of Americans' access to dental care, with a focus on tracking factors that prevent patients from getting access to needed care. The study includes a nationally representative sample of adults.

You can access the full 2013 Annual Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility online at

Brighter is the first simple, free alternative to dental insurance™, offering a level of price transparency and protection previously not available. Starting in Los Angeles, followed by a national rollout, our online service allows self-pay patients to affordably manage their oral health by giving them free access to pre-negotiated prices at hundreds of certified dentists, resulting in average savings of more than 50 percent. Founded by Internet entrepreneur Jake Winebaum, the service is backed by some of the world's most respected investors including Mayfield Fund and Benchmark.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), National Institute of Health. Oral Health in America: A report of the Surgeon General

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