Make that Dental Appointment and Feel Better Overall

People who visit the dentist at least once a year are 22 percent more likely to report that their overall well-being—including their physical and emotional health—is as good or better than those who seldom visit the dentist, according to the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey.

About 1,000 adults from across the U.S. were surveyed and results (www.deltadental.com/Public/NewsMedia/NewsReleaseDentistLinkedWithOverallWell201405.jsp) were released May 6. Those who visit the dentist more often were 37 percent more likely to report their oral health as good or better than those who seldom visit a dentist.

The survey also found that most (86 percent) Americans making $100,000 a year or more visit the dentist at least once annually compared with 46 percent of Americans making less than $25,000. About eight of 10 college-educated adults (83 percent) had regular dental visits. More than half of Americans without a college degree, about six of 10 (59 percent) visit the dentist once a year.

Respondents also indicated that dental insurance coverage is a significant factor in dental visits and overall well-being. Nearly eight of 10 Americans (78 percent) with dental coverage visit the dentist at least once a year versus only about half (52 percent) who don't have coverage.

Half of those surveyed rated their oral health as very good or excellent. Only 19 percent of Americans rated their oral health as fair or poor. Yet more than one of four Americans (27 percent) said they have oral health issues that need to be resolved, but cited ability to pay (62 percent of those with unresolved issues) and fear (23 percent) for not seeking needed treatment. More than one of five Americans (21 percent) said a dentist had told them that they have gum disease. And about one of six Americans (16 percent) said they have missed work due to oral health issues beyond regular treatments and cleanings.

Healthy teeth and gums aren't a luxury. They're essential. That's why the American Dental Association launched Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, a nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending the dental health crisis facing America today.

The causes of the dental health crisis are varied and complex. But we know that for each of us—and for the nation as a whole—it's never too late to get on top of our dental health. Action for Dental Health aims to prevent dental disease before it starts and reduce the proportion of adults and children with untreated dental disease. Our goal is to help all Americans attain their best oral health.

Visit MouthHealthy.org (www.mouthhealthy.org/en/home-ada/public-programs/action-for-dental-health), the ADA's award-winning consumer website, for more information on Action for Dental Health.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Ceaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.