Unlike medical disease, which can be both unpredictable and catastrophic, most dental ailments are preventable. Preventive care, including regular checkups and cleanings, is the key to maintaining your oral health. With regular visits to the dentist, problems can be diagnosed early and treated without extensive testing or elaborate and expensive procedures. That keeps the costs of dental care much lower than those of medical care. In fact, total spending for dental care is decreasing. In 1970, it made up 6.3 percent of total healthcare expenditures. But in 1991, dental care’s share of health care spending was only 4.9 percent.