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Dental Report Card

Jan 17, 2014

The Duke University’s School of Nursing showed that the United States still has a failing report card in oral health and hygiene.  This was the first study to compare several different ethnicities, including Hispanics, Caucasians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Native Americans, and their approach to dental health.  The results were not scholarship worthy.

Professor Bei Wu and her colleagues collected and analyzed data from almost 650,000 middle-aged and elderly Americans about their dental care.  Since the United States has a rapidly growing elderly population  , the information collected proved extremely useful.  As people age, they become more prone to dental neglect which results in tooth decay, periodontal disease, bone loss and gum disease. Of course, regular preventive care will help prevent these issues and you can start with a great dental insurance plan that will pay for these visits here.

The survey included questions on participants’ age, gender, marital status, income, ethnicity, general health, when they last had their teeth cleaned as well as their eating habits.  The good news is that all five ethnic groups showed a slight increase in access to preventive care dentistry.  However, the results concluded that depending on ethnicity, 23-43% of Americans don’t have access to preventive care at all. 

Here are key findings from the study:

  • People with health insurance were 138% more likely to receive preventive dental care.
  • Women were 33% more likely to receive preventive dental care than men.
  • 77% of Asian Americans and 76% of Caucasians reported receiving preventive dental care in 2008. Hispanics, Native Americans, and African Americans were significantly less likely (62%, 62%, and 57% of interviewees, respectively) to receive preventive dental care.
  • Differences between Caucasians and other ethnic groups (except African Americans) in access to preventive dental care can be explained by socioeconomic differences such as income, education, and having health insurance.
  • African Americans' reduced access to preventive dental health might be due to an insufficient number of culturally competent dental care professionals, and to a lack of awareness of oral health and dental care services within this ethnic group.
  • Many Native Americans on reservations receive inadequate dental care, partly due to the lack  of dental care professionals working for the Indian Health Services federal program.
  • Smokers were less likely to receive preventive dental health care. This is of particular concern since oral health is negatively affected by tobacco use.

While the overall dental health  of the United States is showing progress, there are still too many people without care.  With the Affordable Care Act in effect, pediatric dental care is a bit more accessible; however, that leaves the rest of us to fend for ourselves!  Dental Insurance Store can help – we have stand-alone dental plans for all ages that are affordable and can save you money in the long run. 

Make sure that you are not one of the dental statistics mentioned and strive for an A+ on your next dental report card!  

 Sources: Medical News Today



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