Dental Health Neglected in the United States

March 6, 2017

Dental benefits are one of the most common benefits cut from health care policies to control costs. Consequently, only 71 percent of adults in the United States visited a dentist in the last year according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Often poor dental care is tied to racial and ethnic factors. In California, for instance, nearly one in four children have never been to a dentist, with Latino and African American children 25 percent more likely to have had no dental care in their lives.

Nationally, this problem has also been compounded by a shortage of dentists, particularly in rural areas. Currently, three out of five adults in this country who are classified as “low income” have no dental insurance, while two out of five “higher income” Americans are in the same position.

Many dental schools are offering cheap or low-cost dental services including cleanings, sealant, X-rays, fillings, and routine check-ups. Because poor dental health can lead to other physical issues, dental professionals urge consumers to take advantage of these services when they are available.

It is more difficult to find dentists who will take non-paying customers for more complex procedures requiring a specialist or surgeon, but often basic dental care can prevent issues from reaching that level.

By state, Connecticut ranks highest for good dental care, with 80.2 percent of adults having visited a dentist last year with Oklahoma ranking lowest at 57.9 percent.