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Cost, Not Fear, Keeps More People From Dentist

4 out of 10 People Forgo Visiting the Dentist Due to Cost
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

perfect smile

July 18, 2012 -- Cost is a bigger factor than fear when it's time to visit the dentist, a new government report shows.

The national survey on oral health shows 4 out of 10 adults in the U.S. say cost is the main reason they don't visit the dentist with an oral health problem like a toothache or loose teeth "in the past six months."

Fear was the motivating factor to forgo the dentist for only 1 in 10 adults when they had an oral health problem.

Researchers say the results suggest cost and lack of dental coverage is a major factor influencing oral health in the U.S.

Overall, the study shows about three-quarters of adults aged 18-64 in 2008 had very good or good oral health, 17% had fair, and 7% had poor.

People with Medicaid were almost five times as likely as adults with private health insurance to have poor oral health.

Oral Health in the U.S.

In 2000, the U.S. surgeon general issued a report calling attention to the "silent epidemic" of dental and oral diseases in the U.S. and emphasizing the need for more information about the status of peoples' oral health.

In this study, researchers analyzed information from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey to check on the status of oral health in the U.S.

The results show 6 out of 10 adults aged 18-64 visited a dentist or other dental health professional "within the past year."

Researchers found several health and economic factors were related to oral health and frequency of dentist visits. For example:

  • People with diabetes were nearly twice as likely to have worse oral health than others the same age without diabetes (29% vs. 16%).
  • People with diabetes were also nearly twice as likely as those without diabetes to have not visited a dentist in more than five years.
  • Those in poor families were more than twice as likely as adults in families that were not poor to have worse oral health than others (28% vs. 13%).
  • Among those with one or more mouth or tooth problems, more than half who were uninsured had an unmet dental need due to cost, vs. one-tenth of those with private health insurance.

Education also seemed to play a role in overall oral health. The study shows people with less than a high school diploma were nearly twice as likely to have poorer oral health than others their age (39% vs. 20%).

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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