Earlier this week, the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute released a report with results from a nationwide survey. Nearly 15,000 U.S. adults participated in the survey from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, answering questions about their attitudes toward the importance and value of good oral health. According to a recent article from ADA News, the results show just how seriously oral health issues impact the lives of U.S. adults.
The survey found that low-income adults are 10 times more likely to rate the overall condition of their mouth and teeth as “poor,” when compared to their high-income counterparts. Low income adults are also almost twice as likely to have the appearance of their teeth negatively impact their ability to interview for a job and are twice as likely to have trouble chewing or biting.
Other important findings include (across all income levels):
- Almost 30% stated that life is “very often” or “occasionally” less satisfying because of the condition of their mouth.
- 25% of adults claimed that they avoid smiling because of the condition of their teeth.
- One in five adults have anxiety over the condition of their mouth and teeth.
- 60% of participants stated that cost is the reason they hadn’t visited a dentist in the last year.
Researchers commented that these results should be a wake-up call to policymakers in regards to how oral health is treated by the healthcare sector. In the report, researchers urged policymakers to “reconsider the separation of mouth and body in state and federal health care policy” and also recommend they “explore alternative designs of adult dental benefits in Medicaid and private benefit plans.”
“It is time to re-engineer the health care system so that it recognizes the crucial part oral health plays in all of our lives,” Dr. Vujicic said. “Put succinctly, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.”