Report: Cost Is a Deterrent to Dental Care for Some Adults

Cost is a major factor keeping people from access dental care, a report released today by the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute and Families USA.

Low-income adults were 10 times more likely to rate the status of their teeth and mouth as poor than high-income adults. Regardless of age or income, cost was the top reason respondents said they had not been to a dentist in the prior 12 months.

Among adults eligible for Medicaid, 41 percent reported having difficulty finding a dentist that would accept their insurance.

But the organizations are pointing to their findings about how oral health is linked to social and economic well-being as cause for why policymakers should take up the issue. One in 4 adults surveyed said they avoided smiling because of the condition of their mouth and teeth. Of low-income adults, 29 percent said their mouth and teeth condition affected their ability to interview for a job, while 28 percent of young adults said the same.

“Policy makers now have robust empirical data linking oral health — a long overlooked aspect of health care policy — to physical, social and economic well-being,” Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the ADA’s Health Policy Institute said in a statement. “These numbers need to be a starting point for a national discussion about improving access to oral health care for adults in America.”

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