In the U.S., many people have access to the best oral health care in the world, yet millions are unable to get even the basic dental care they need.
The issue of lack of access to dental care is extremely serious because untreated oral diseases can lead to not only pain, infection, and tooth loss, but also contribute to an increased risk for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and poor birth outcomes.
A report published on February 29, 2012 by chairman Bernard Sanders, Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions contains more detail on our dental crisis.
The following are the key findings of the “Dental Crisis in America” report:
- More than 47 million people live in places where it is difﬁcult to access dental care.
- About 17 million low-income children received no dental care in 2009.
- One fourth of adults in the U.S. ages 65 and older have lost all of their teeth.
- Low-income adults are almost twice as likely as higher-income adults to have gone without a dental check up in the previous year.
- Bad dental health impacts overall health and increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and poor birth outcomes.
- There were over 830,000 visits to emergency rooms across the country for preventable dental conditions in 2009 – a 16% increase since 2006.
- Almost 60% of kids ages 5 to 17 have cavities – making tooth decay ﬁve times more common than asthma among children of this age.
- Nearly 9,500 new dental providers are needed to meet the country’s current oral health needs.
- However, there are more dentists retiring each year than there are dental school graduates to replace them.
Click here to read the complete report on the dental crisis.