Americans agree that taking care of one’s mouth, teeth and gums is “absolutely needed,” yet, only 1/3 of American say they do an “excellent” job taking care of their mouth, teeth and gums, and fewer says their oral health is “excellent” (from The Public Speaks Up on Oral Health Care: An ADA and Crest/Oral-B Survey). So why aren’t these oral health conscious Americans going to the dentist?
While most believe that they just didn’t have the time or the need, cost was cited by 40% of those surveyed as the biggest concern governing their decision. Persons with lower incomes are affected by Medicaid’s decision to deprioritize dental care and because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act do not include dental care as an essential benefit. This creates what the ADA calls, “a disturbing dental divide in America,” where lower income families are not getting the dental care they need, and the resulting emergency work (which is very expensive) drives them further into debt.
People who earned over $120,000 per year were twice as likely to go to the dentist as those who earned less than $12,000. “Dental visit rates have held steady since 2008 for top earners,” the Gallup report indicates, “while they have declined for all other groups, particularly for low- and middle-income households with incomes between $24,000 and $60,000 per year.”
Nearly 33% of persons surveyed indicated that they believed their mouths to be healthy, therefore they didn’t need to go to the dentist (I tried this with my mother this several times, without success). While it is true that some people may not need professional dental care because of the advancements in dental health and education, other may not fully understand the implications or consequences of poor oral health.
Dental appointments are uncomfortable. It’s just a fact of life, but so are doctors’ appointments, and you don’t skip those, right? Some would claim a genetic aversion to the dentist, but most dental anxieties are the result of horror stories (real and imagined) handed down through the generations. Dentistry has improved vastly in the last few decades. Speaking to you dentist about any questions you may have about a procedure may also help alleviate any lingering anxieties during your visit.
Reasons to Visit Your Dentist
Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss and is easily diagnosed and treated. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease, stroke, pancreatic cancer and more. Visiting your dentist regularly and maintain good oral hygiene is crucial for keeping your natural teeth strong and healthy.
According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, someone dies from oral cancer every hour of every day in the United States. Your dentist checks for oral cancer at your check up, and it is easily cured if diagnosed early.
Most toothaches and dental emergencies can be easily avoided just by regular visits to the dentist, where early signs of problems can be detected. Left untreated, simple problems like cavities, broken fillings and gum disease can have painful and expensive consequences like root canals, gum surgery and loss of teeth.
Americans deem the smile the most important physical attribute but do not realize that a beautiful smile is not always a healthy smile and can mask underlying oral health problems. Regular dental visits allow for preventative care that can prevent small problems from ballooning into major health concerns.