There is a dental care crisis in this country, with many people not seeing the dentist as often as they should or receiving appropriate dental care to promote oral and overall health. The American Dental Association (ADA) notes the following statistics about the dental care crisis:
- 181 million Americans will not see a dentist this year
- About 25% of children under the age of 5 have cavities
- About half of adults over age 30 have gum disease
- More than 2 million Americans visited the emergency room for dental care in 2010, about twice as many as in 2000
The report doesn’t even mention that 17% of people may not have seen a dentist in the last five years, but the ADA is urging Congress to take action to help improve access to the dentist.
“Millions of Americans continue to face barriers to dental care, which is why the ADA launched Action for Dental Health,” said ADA President Dr. Charles Norman. “While we have accomplished much in the first year, there is still much to do. This Report to Congress serves as a continued call to action for elected officials, health policy organizations, community leaders and the dental community to come together to bridge the dental divide.”
Initiatives to Improve Access and Care
The ADA’s Action for Dental Health is built around nine nationwide initiatives designed to help improve oral health and access to care
- Reduce the number of people visiting the ER for dental pain, cavities, and other preventable conditions by 50% and overall dental issues by 35% by 2020
- Increase access by making it easier for privately licensed dentists to accept publicly insured patients
- Increase dental care access for nursing home residents
- Expand dental screening programs for children and increase the use of dental sealants
- Expand fluoridation programs to increase access to fluoridated water
- Educate people about existing dental safety net to increase usage and expand dental safety net
- Expand education linking oral health to overall health
- Improve reimbursement practices to make it easier for dentists to participate in Medicaid and CHP
- with the overall goal of decreasing untreated dental decay in adults and children by 15% and increase children’s access to preventive dental care by 2020 through the use of these public/private partnerships
If these initiatives are successful, the ADA will have made great strides in improving the oral health of our nation.
What’s Keeping You from the Dentist?
With more than half of Americans not visiting the dentist this year, it’s clear that something needs to be done to get people to take the time to visit the dentist. At Smile Columbia Dentistry, we can help you overcome many potential barriers from dental anxiety to finances.