Millions Still Skipping the Dentist

In recent years, several dental organizations have made a push to improve awareness of oral health importance in an effort to combat the growing oral disease epidemic across the country.  Initiatives like the American Dental Association’s (ADA) National Children’s Dental Health Month and the American Dental Hygienists Association’s (ADHA) National Dental Hygiene Month have paved the road for improved education and access to the millions of Americans who are experiencing some form of tooth decay and disease.  Despite these efforts though a recent Gallup poll has found that nearly 1/3 of individuals are still not visiting the dentist at least once a year, a recommendation that is widely acknowledged as having a critical part in any oral hygiene routine.

The poll was conducted via telephone interview and had 178,072 participants, according to a recent Dental Tribune article.  The latest data was also compared to that of a similar survey, where 354,645 U.S. adults took part in 2008, in order to gauge any improvement in statistics.  Researchers were able to conclude that only about 65% of Americans visit the dentist annually, and that women (67.2%) are better about going than men (62%).  The data was also broken down to look at ethnic variations, and interestingly investigators observed that only about 55% of black and Hispanic participants had been to the dentist in the previous year, compared to about 70% of white and Asian participants.  Similar results were found in 2008, with a small decline in the black population (58% in 2008). Marital status also seemed to be an indicator as nearly 71% of married participants went to the dentist annually, compared to their single counterparts (60.7%).  Furthermore, couples who were separated visited the dentist the least, dropping from 52.4% in 2008 to 46.6% in 2013.

There are many reasons that individuals cite for choosing to skip the dentist.  The two most common excuses relate to cost and fear, both very legitimate concerns.  Majority of Americans do not carry dental insurance, and therefore are required to pay the full cost of dental work out-of-pocket.  While coming up with the extra cash for a teeth cleaning and x-rays seems far less appealing than say, a new pair of shoes, or a nice date night out with a loved one, consider this: If you neglect your teeth now, you will most likely develop an oral disease that will require emergency action some time down the road.  A trip to the ER with excruciating mouth pain will cost far more than a few years of annual trips to the dentist for a check-up and professional cleaning.  And if fear is keeping you away, have you heard about sedation dentistry? Millions of Americans suffer from dental phobia and professionals around the country are helping calm their fears through a variety of sedation options.  Again, the more you skip the dentist, the more likely you’ll be to end up needing extensive, PREVENTABLE, dental work down the road.  Take care of the teeth you have now; they’re the only ones you get!

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