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How Is America’s Dental Health?

The field of dentistry has improved over the years. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that America’s dental health is becoming worse despite advances in dentistry. More than 40 percent of adults feel pain in their mouth, and more than 80 percent of people have at least one cavity before they turn 34.

Roughly 25 percent of those 65 and above have already lost all their teeth.

The American Cancer Society estimated 51,540 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year. Approximately 10,030 of those people will die from the disease in 2018. In 2012, CDC found that nearly 44,000 new cases of oral cancer. In the same year, nearly 9,000 people died.

Aside from these oral health problems, other aspects of life are also affected by the mouth and teeth conditions.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), one in four adults avoids smiling due to their mouth and teeth conditions. Furthermore, one in five adults experiences anxiety due to their moral standing. Additionally, according to the ADA, 23 percent of adults are unhappy and bashful with the condition of their mouth and teeth.

The alarming figures, said ADA, are due to the difficulty accessing dental care for some individuals and families. According to the oral health advocate, about two-thirds of Americans experience challenges in accessing dental care, including getting to a dental office, prioritizing dental care among other health crises and basic living, overcoming financial barriers, and traversing government assistance programs.

In the fact sheets released by ADA in 2014, only 52.3 percent of adults visit the dentist every six months, and 15.4 percent do so once a year. Furthermore, 11 percent only go to the dentist once every two or three years. More than one in five or 21.3 percent have not visited the dentist in the last few years.

People cited cost, fear of the dentist and inability to find a convenient location or appointment time as the top reasons for avoiding the dentist. Among the reasons, 59 percent of adults forgo dental care because of its accompanying cost. This is no longer surprising considering the continuous increase in the cost of dental services, recording a CPI of 477.4 in 2017.

Meanwhile, 19 percent said they cannot find a convenient location or appointment time. Also, fewer people have dental insurance in comparison to medical insurance. For every adult aged 19 and older without medical insurance, three do not have dental insurance. On the one hand, those who have dental insurance lose theirs when they retire.

ADA urges the wider healthcare community, local, federal and state officials, including the private sector and people who desire a more productive and healthier nation to take part in sealant programs for kids, community water fluoridation, education of individuals on gum and teeth health and getting more people into dental homes.

Former ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg also underscored the belief of the Association that prevention is still the best answer in alleviating dental problems. “While it is deemed crucial to treat a disease that has already emerged, the public health community has to intensify its focus on proven and tested approaches to preventing it,” she says.

Since most of the oral health problems are preventable, basic dental hygiene will be helpful in bringing those alarming figures down.

Some important habits that you can have to maintain good oral health are as follows:

  • Brushing teeth correctly with brush bristles at a 45-degree angle from your gum line. Also, practice the up and down, back and forth motion when brushing to ensure all parts are cleaned.
  • Floss regularly reaching areas in your mouth between the teeth that toothbrush and mouthwash miss. Flossing at least once a day, preferably after you eat dinner or before going to sleep, is necessary.
  • Minimize soda, alcohol or coffee intake as these beverages can weaken and discolor the teeth. This is due to their high phosphorous content.
  • Stock up on calcium and other vitamins to strengthen your teeth.
  • Clean your tongue by lightly brushing it.
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