Imagine you arrive early to a job interview. Your suit is freshly pressed, your resume is on point and you’ve practiced potential interview questions in the mirror a hundred times. You’re the perfect fit for the job. But you don’t land the position because of one little thing — your teeth. This is the dim reality for millions of Americans, especially those interested in service positions where they would interact with customers. Aside from bad teeth making you unemployable, they can destroy your social life and self-esteem.
Bad teeth and can’t find a job
Physical appearance can be barrier to getting the job you want, as employers are looking for the “whole package”. You have to look good on paper and in person. CollegeAtlas.org released an interesting infographic on what can make or break a job interview. Number three on its list of turn-offs to potential employers was not smiling. But if you have bad teeth, the tendency is to avoid smiling out of fear that your broken, decaying or missing teeth will scare off your future employer.
Lack of access to dental care
For many, having bad teeth is a byproduct of poverty. It’s not that these individuals don’t want to fix their teeth; but rather they don’t have the means to do so. And when you pair low incomes, poor eating habits, poor oral hygiene and lack of access to dental care, all things that impoverished individuals face, you’re caught in the eye of the perfect storm.
Lack of access to dental care is a big problem for many people. Although the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) requires that plans in the Marketplace offer dental coverage to children, it does not require adults to be offered coverage. Now you have a number of individuals without access to affordable dental care who can’t find a job because they can’t fix their teeth. It’s a Catch-22.
This is especially true in Southern and Appalachian states. USA Today ran a story in 2015 reporting that about 20% of working-age adults in this region have lost at least six teeth. Not coincidentally, West Virginia had the highest unemployment rate and the highest percentage of working-age adults with missing teeth.
On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that electively pulling healthy teeth so that you don’t have to deal with issues down the road is not a good idea. This is also common in some rural and impoverished areas due to lack of information.
Fixing your teeth with no money
The good news is that there are ways to fix bad teeth for free. Mission of Mercy and Remote Area Medical® (RAM®) are two volunteer-led organizations that offer free dental care to those who are impoverished or underserved. RAM® largely serves the Appalachian states, while Mission of Mercy is more focused on Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Pennsylvania. However, since both offer assistance via mobile clinics, contact the organization to find out if or when they’ll be in your area.
One thing to keep in mind is that assistance is on a ffirst come first-serve basis, so arrive early.
Free dental services
Both of these organizations offer a number of free dental procedures.
Some of these include:
- Dental cleanings
- Dental Exams
- Stainless steel crowns
- Root canals
- Dentures (may be full or partial)
Now, if it turns out that you do need either full or partial dentures, be advised that waiting lists are usually fairly lengthy.
Dental schools offer low cost dental care
If RAM® or Mission of Mercy are not available in your area or you need dental treatment more urgently, look into finding a nearby dental school. They can perform all of the above listed procedures, including fitting you for dentures, at a fraction of the cost that you would pay a dentist.
Affordable alternatives to dental insurance
If you are financially able to afford roughly $80, you can purchase a dental savings plan annual membership. With it, you can save anywhere from 10% to 60% off the cost of most dental procedures.
The different areas of dentistry that you can save on are:
- Oral surgery
Plus, dental savings plan have less limitations than dental insurance does, making it a more flexible and affordable alternative. Additionally, more than 100,000 dentists nationwide accept dental savings plan, so you’re sure to find one in your area who can restore your smile — and for a lot less than you’d expect.
Fix your teeth to help land a job
Having a smile that you’re proud of can do wonders for your confidence and career. Check out the resources provided throughout the article to find the option that works best for you. And remember, take care of your teeth sooner rather than later. It can spare you from needing more costly and severe work down the road.