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Many Americans Don't Receive Preventive Dental Care

10-year study found some improvement, but continued gaps among racial groups
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Too many Americans lack access to preventive dental care, a new study reports, and large differences exist among racial and ethnic groups.

For the study, researchers analyzed telephone survey data collected from nearly 650,000 middle-aged and older adults between 1999 and 2008. The investigators found that the number who received preventive dental care increased during that time.

However, 23 percent to 43 percent of Americans did not receive preventive dental care in 2008, depending on race or ethnicity. Rates of preventive care were 77 percent for Asian Americans, 76 percent for whites, 62 percent for Hispanics and Native Americans, and 57 percent for blacks, the results showed.

The study was published online Dec. 17 in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Factors such as income, education and having health insurance explained the differences in access to preventive dental care among whites and other racial groups except blacks, according to a journal news release.

The lower rate of preventive dental care among blacks may be due to a lack of awareness about dental health and dental care services, and to an inadequate number of culturally competent dental care professionals, suggested Bei Wu, a professor and director for international research at Duke University's School of Nursing, and colleagues.

Many Native Americans who live on reservations don't receive proper dental care, partly because too few dental care professionals choose to work for the Indian Health Services, the researchers pointed out in the news release.

The investigators also found that people with health insurance were 138 percent more likely to receive preventive dental care than those without insurance. Women were one-third more likely to get preventive dental care than men.

Smokers were also less likely to receive preventive dental care, which is of particular concern because tobacco use is a threat to oral health, the researchers noted.

The findings demonstrate the need to develop public dental health programs that target middle-aged and older Americans, improve access to dental care, and create a dental workforce that is culturally competent, the study authors said.

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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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