Oral health is one of the most crucial aspects of living a healthy and prosperous life. Our mouth is a window that protects the health of our body.
Some of the first signs of immunodeficiency, nutritional imbalance, or systemic disease are seen in the oral cavity.
Mouth lesions, gum inflammations, oral ulcers, and changes in the oral tissues are some of the initial symptoms that may indicate a systemic effect.
Although most Americans enjoy the benefits of having excellent oral health and healthy natural teeth throughout their life, there is still a massive percentage of people who do not follow up to their dental appointments.
Tooth decay and cavity formation have been one of the most prevalent chronic dental diseases in America.
However, with the belief of visiting the dental office only when the tooth hurts is contributing to poor oral health and hygiene.
Regular dental check-up and oral examinations help to diagnose oral conditions at an early stage and save the patient from experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity, or tooth loss.
Additionally, dental counseling also helps to educate the patient about the importance of maintaining good oral health, learning proper brushing and flossing techniques, and getting advice on balancing life with appropriate diet counseling.
Today’s article will reveal some of the significant facts about oral health and dental visits in the United States of America.
Moreover, we will also discuss the reasons for the decline in oral health among the American population.
Why is oral health essential among the American population?
In the last 15 years, several clinical studies and survey reports have linked oral health to overall systemic health.
People who are unaware of their poor oral health suffer from several systemic conditions like uncontrolled diabetes, heart, and infections.
Increased bacterial growth in the mouth and transfer of bacteria into the bloodstream causes inflammation that may lead to heart diseases and stroke.
Additionally, an oral bacterial infection is a potential risk factor for pre-term or low birth weight deliveries among pregnant women. (1)
Therefore, oral health and awareness is a topic of concern among the American population.
What percentage of the population follows up their dental appointments?
A long term survey study recorded the total percentage of the population all over the U.S who attended their dental appointments routinely.
The study was performed first in the year 2008 and then again in 2013. The results of this study revealed that the percentage of people attending dental appointments decreased by 1% over six years.
Moreover, the demographic facts declared by the study were as follows –
- Women sought dental care more than men, with an increasing percentage of 4.3%. (2)
- At present, 4.3% of the senior citizens have started seeing their dentist more frequently as compared to earlier years.
- Majority of married couples seek dental care more often than people who are single, divorced, or widowed.
- Highest annual household income groups visit dentists twice as often than low-income groups.
To combat these statistics, actions at all levels of the society, including individuals and communities, are required to maintain the health and well being of all of the Americans.
What is the prime reason for a decline in dental visits among the American population?
Typically, there are two prime reasons for dental care to take a back seat among the American population. They are as follows –
- Lack of knowledge and failure to value oral health is impeding on people’s ability to achieve or maintain good health and well being.
- Lack of dental coverage for the low-income group of people is leading to devastating oral health results. The high cost of dental treatments is also impeding dental care for adults with private insurance policy. (3)
The Center for Disease Contol and Prevention has declared that around 1/4th of the Americans above 65 years of age have lost their teeth.
1/3rd of them have decayed teeth associated with poor oral hygiene. Additionally, all of these dental problems are a potential concern for developing systemic diseases.
Although Medicare – a federal health program offers senior citizens dental care, it doesn’t cover the cost of necessary teeth cleaning, fillings, dental x-rays, or oral examinations.
Similarly, Medicaid, which provides health insurance to children, does not extend the benefits of dental treatments. (4)
Strengthening local dental programs by working together with communities can help to provide dental care to the people in dire need of it.
How can oral health education and prevention improve the quality of life?
Educating the patients about the importance of oral health and its effect on bodily health can save them from the misery of living an unhealthy life.
Routine dental appointments are essential as they provide necessary solutions to vulnerable teeth.
Encouraging patients to learn about preventive dental treatments or remedies can help to reduce potential problems of gum inflammation and bacterial overload.
Introduction of new medical policies is extending a helping hand to patients for reducing the treatments costs and eliminating the most significant barrier between the patient and dental treatment.
A simple dental consultation can educate and motivate the patient to prevent poor oral hygiene by following a routine oral health care regime.
Moreover, it encourages the patient to follow up on their future dental appointments to live a healthy life.
Take away message
Oral health is an essential aspect of life. Have good oral hygiene means much more than just healthy teeth.
It is an integral part of maintaining a balance between the general health and well being of an individual.
With the increasing lack of oral health awareness and education associated with an increased cost of dental treatments, there has been a significant decline in dental visits among the American population.
Statistics have shown that people who have high annual household income are privileged to receive dental care as compared to low-income group people who do not get adequate dental coverage.
Increasing oral health awareness can help people to improve their dental hygiene standards.
Moreover, it will motivate them to prevent tooth decay, poor oral health, and devastating general health.
Poor oral health is easily preventable, and a dental professional can help to provide a great deal of information and advice on keeping the mouth healthy.