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United We Stand, Divided We Do Oral Hygiene

Sep 05, 2014

By Dean George

The good news is that 92% of Americans brush their teeth daily. The bad news is that despite efforts to inform everyone about the importance of maintaining good oral health, a recent poll shows there is still a considerable “dental divide” between income groups.

Specifically, people in households earning under $50,000 are less likely to visit the dentist regularly, floss as recommended, eat healthy foods and abstain from smoking.


A recent Harris Poll survey of 2,088 U.S. adults commissioned by Oral Health of America (OHA) reveals that Americans making less than the median income, including young adults, students and those living in urban areas, are 25% more likely to smoke and less likely to practice good oral hygiene regularly.

These findings are consistent with similar studies, including an American Dental Association study reported on in Dental Wire last year, revealing a divided America on oral health issues. Findings in that ADA study reported that nearly half of low-income adults admitted to not seeing a dentist for a year or longer, and that nearly 20% of adults 18 years or older were more than twice as likely to have their teeth removed than other income groups.

“We have a societal responsibility to educate the public and our legislators about why oral health is important for overall health, and to ensure that all Americans, particularly those most vulnerable to disease, are able to obtain the care they need," said Beth Truett, OHA President and CEO.

To help educate Americans about the importance of maintaining oral health and work to bridge the “dental divide,” OHA is running their 6th annual Fall for Smiles campaign from September 1 – October 31. Part of this year’s campaign will include co-hosting a September 10 event on Capitol Hill with the Dental Trade Alliance entitled: “Communities Matter: Does Your Neighborhood Determine Your Oral Health?”

While some low-income adults and children have gained improved access to dental care through the Affordable Care Act, many of those benefits are due to the Medicaid expansion and few states provide dental benefits for adults. Of those states that do, it is well documented that few dentists participate in the Medicaid program.

"Ensuring that all Americans have access to oral healthcare is key to improving the oral health and overall health of the nation," said Dental Trade Alliance CEO Gary Price.  Truett added, “All Americans, regardless of income level, age or where they live, deserve to have a healthy mouth.”

Dental Insurance Store proudly offers affordable dental plans in the 48-contiguous states.  To check for plans in your area, click here.

Sources: oralhealthamerica.org, prnewswire.com, hu-friedy.com
Photo source: oralhealthamerica.org


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