Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

“In 2007, the nation spent $98.6 billion on dental services, yet many children and adults went without the services they need to prevent and control oral disease. We have interventions that can not only prevent disease but also save money” (CDC 34). Oral health for the general public, especially the underserved, has been consistently overlooked. Low-income families and developing countries, who are the most vulnerable to oral problems, are the population that is the most ignored. Five and a half percent of people, in 2007, either could not receive dental care or were putting it off. The main cause of this is money. Many insurances are not accepted by dental clinics because of the high costs of dental exams (Institute of Medicine. 38, 88). If this is not the case, why are these people delaying in protecting their oral health? What most people do not know is that oral health affects overall health. This realization began in 1944 with the Public Health Service

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More research is coming out on this subject, but already bacteria from periodontal disease has been found in the brain, lungs, and heart (Institute of Medicine. 33). With oral health being increasingly important and low-income families and countries being underserved, the government has started to initiate programs to improve oral health geared towards the underprivileged. The water fluoridation and school-based dental sealants are two successful programs started by the government (“Oral health.” CDC par. 41). These programs however do not reach enough people, especially the people who are part of the underserved.

Factors that Affect the Cost of Oral Health Care Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

The mouth is full of bacteria, but with everyday brushing and regular visits to the dentist, this bacteria normally does not propose a threat to our health. The time where this bacteria can become a problem is when we fail to take proper care of our mouth. “In rare instances, oral disease can be the focal point of a disease process that leads to death”, says Dr. Bill Calnon who is president of the American Dental Association. Unfortunately this was the case for Kyle Willis, a twenty-four year old single father who died from the buildup of bacteria that caused a toothache. When Kyle Willis first started having this toothache, like most people, he went to the dentist. However he was not employed and did not have health or dental insurance. When he was told that his tooth needed to be extracted, he put off the procedure due to the lack of funds. After a few weeks Willis went to the emergency room because of a headache and a swollen face that was caused by an infection that formed from the toothache. The doctors prescribed Willis painkillers and antibiotics but Willis was not able to afford both so he decided on getting the painkillers. Willis died from the infection spreading to his brain because he did not take antibiotics to stop the spread of the bacteria Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four adults has untreated tooth decay and tooth decay is twice as likely in low-income adults compared to other adults. Not only is this a problem for adults but it is also a major problem for children. Referring to a 2012 research from Kaiser Family Foundation, tooth decay was the most common chronic illness among school-aged children. About one million Americans visit the emergency room every year because of oral pain. Most of this problem comes from individuals avoiding the dentist or neglecting the dentist for other reasons such as not having insurance. In 2010, 22 percent of low-income adults hadn’t been to the dentist for five years or more.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

Dr. Bill Calnon told Frontline “they (people) have to know how to navigate the system to be properly placed into a treatment facility”. There are hospitals which have their own dental center. These dental centers will provide care to those who are insured, underinsured, and not insured at all. The problem is that many people do not know these dental centers exist which points out that there is not enough attention being drawn to the system. This happened to be the problem for Kyle Willis. The hospital that Willis went to had a dental center but because Willis was not educated about the access of the center, he was not able to take proper action with his oral health.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

In the early years of dentistry, dentists put most of their attention on treating patients with tooth decay and abscesses. Now days, dentists perform a variation of preventative care treatment. The goal is to prevent dental issues and treat diseases as soon as possible to keep a patient’s oral health from causing a problem in the future. However there are various barriers that people face when it comes to accessing oral health care. Such barriers include lack of insurance, transportation, lack of time off from work, and limited income. Studies have shown that the people who suffer the worst when it comes to affording oral health care costs are minorities, low-income families, and individuals who are insured through government systems. Not being educated about oral health and the ways to access it can also affect the cost of it. It is clear that Kyle Willis suffered from a few of these factors when it came to his oral health. If Kyle Willis had known about the dental center in his area, they may have been able to figure out a plan to help him and he could have prevented the spread of his infection which could have saved his life. Although treatment is improving and more effective, the oral health system has turned their focus to one population, the people who have sufficient income that is able to cover the expenses that insurance does not pay for, and has become blind to people of lower socioeconomic status.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

pie chart

The above pie chart (slide 38) summarizes what people think they need in order to have good oral health.. Blue represents dental services-27%, red represents tools (tooth brushes, tooth paste, and floss) -24%, green is better habits-16%, purple refers to having a good dentist- 14%, and light blue is money-9%

Preventative Care

Dental disease is highly concentrated among those with low socioeconomic status. “Two-thirds of the dental decay in the United States is in the bottom third of the socioeconomic status” as told by TCA Regional News. This problem arises from the many individuals who cannot afford to go to the dentist to have professionals examine their oral health and treat unwanted bacteria and diseases from forming. One major problem that low-income families face is the lack of preventative care. When regular checkups becomes so far out of reach that it is seen as a “luxury” to a family, the number of dental emergencies rise. To look at this in a different perspective, if an individual does not attend an oral health care professional, and only depends on the dental care that is done at home, they are not meeting all the necessities of the mouth. A lot of times this is due to laziness. Sadly, many people do not do the oral care that they should be doing at home, for example flossing. The American Academy of Periodontology helped conduct an online survey among 2021 adults in the United States. From the survey it was found that only 4 in 10 Americans floss every day. This survey also shows that more than a third of the people that do not floss their teeth would rather be doing house chores such as cleaning the toilet. This shows that the majority of people do not understand the importance of flossing and they are not educated enough on gum disease, which is very common. Gum disease affects one in two adults over the age of 30, says the American Academy of Periodontology.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay  Flossing is very important because it fights the buildup of plaque in between teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. It is important that plaque is treated because the bacteria in plaque causes tooth decay and gum disease says the Academy of General Dentistry and American Dental Association. Another thing that at home dental care does not meet is fluoride protection. Proper fluoride treatment is not being applied to the teeth which is a major defense against tooth decay. When a dental disease first develops, it is only noticeable through X-rays. By the time a person starts to see or feel that something is wrong, the expense for treatment has significantly increased. Some people will go so long without dental care that their teeth cannot be saved. Prolonging dental care only makes the expenses rise. According to Johnson, a dentist who practices at a clinic in Greeley, Chicago, sixty to seventy percent of children patients’ needs treatment that goes beyond a regular checkup appointment. This is because many of them suffer from tooth decay or characteristics that are leading to possible tooth decay. The American Journal of Public Health performed a study to find out if preventative health care resulted in less money being spent on nonpreventative care. The survey lasted over a period of four years and consisted of a sample of aged, disabled, and institutionalized Medicare beneficiaries. More than half the participants were female. Ten percent were non-Hispanic Blacks and seven percent were Hispanic, and about half were 75 years or older and fifteen percent were 64 years or younger. The research distinguished the difference between preventative dental care and nonpreventative dental care users. Preventative dental care was defined as having checkups that involved regular cleanings, X-rays, and exams. The results showed that beneficiaries (individuals that have insurance or some kind of benefit) who used preventative care had more dental visits but fewer visits for expensive  nonpreventative procedures.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay  Beneficiaries also had lower dental expenses compared to individuals who saw the dentist only for oral problems. This suggests that preventative care reduces dental bills and out-of-pocket payments. Without insurance a fluoride treatment could cost between $30 to $40 but with insurance it could cost no more than $15. However this does depend on what type of clinic a person goes to and what state it is in. As said before fluoride defends against tooth decay, so if proper treatment is not done, a person may need a root canal if the tooth has become infected. This could cost up to $1000 but again this also varies by state and the type of dental office. Having dental coverage for preventative care not only reduces the costs of expensive nonpreventative care but improves an individual’s oral health. These results were consistent with other studies exploring the dental access problems for minorities, racial and ethnic groups, low-income families, and an individual’s education level.

As reported by the American Dental Association, the most effective way to ensure optimal dental health is through prevention, education, and behavioral modifications. Taking preventative measures will most importantly decrease a person’s risk of acquiring a disease but it will also yield savings.

Correlation Between Oral Health and Physical Health

The older a person is the more likely they need dental care but only about 2% of older Americans have dental insurance. The reason dental care is so important to the older population is because as you age the nerves in your teeth can become smaller making your teeth less sensitive to cavities or other problems. Chris Hawkins who has written, edited, researched for many national and regional publications and websites found that over 30% of the elderly have untreated cavities; between the ages of 65 and 74 about 25% of the people have periodontal disease which is linked to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease stroke and respiratory disease; and approximately 30% lose their teeth. Many think that losing teeth is associated with old age but it has nothing to do with a person’s age. Losing teeth is an effect from not keeping up with good oral health. Many reasons that the elderly do not attend the dentist is similar to low-income individuals. Issues that cause the elderly to avoid the dentist are loss of dental coverage after retiring, Medicare only covers certain treatment, Medicaid coverage is limited, and out-of-pocket expenses are too high. Not being able to have checkup appointments could cause a chain reaction to the downfall of physical health. If an individual is not able to get oral health problems situated and it leads to the development of pain or losing teeth, this can have an impact on the person’s diet. This could cause a diet change for the worse which will impact the person’s health overall. A person will have to find the funds to get the dental problem fixed in order to improve physical health.

Families that live in poverty have trouble meeting the most basic household needs such as food. Research has found that dental disease is linked to “food insecurity”. Food insecurity is the state of not having reliable access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food. A study was conducted to understand how economic implications effects how low-income families budget for dental care costs. The average cost of each new patients attending the dental teaching clinic were calculated. Every fifth patient from the list of patients who had received treatment from the year 2006-2007 were selected for the sample of 213 patients. Children under the age of sixteen were excluded. There were twelve patients that paid significantly higher than the mean, they were excluded from the sample. Once every patient selected for the sample was approved for the one year treatment plan, the cost of upcoming treatment was determined. Treatments included diagnostic and preventive procedures, periodontics, restorative procedures, removal prosthodontics, minor surgery, interceptive orthodontics, and endodontics.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay  There was one exception for prosthodontics, this procedure excluded fixed and implant-retained prostheses due to the complexity and lengthy time it consumes. The average cost of treatment was explored using five different scenarios for a family of four with two children. The purpose of this was to better understand the financial struggles of treatment for families that classify as low income. The scenarios are as follows: assistance without benefits for dental services, assistance with employment support and income assistance dental benefits, employment with minimum wage (one parent working full-time and the other part-time), employment with average call wage (one parent working full-time and the other part-time), and median income for families. The researchers found the average cost for planned dental treatment to be $1593.24 yearly. Within the first year there was an average of the patients completing 42% of the planned treatment. This data showed the cost of treatment to be around $55.22 per month. The researchers determined families receiving income assistance or with parents working for minimum wage would not be able to cover the finances for dental treatment.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

The Effect on Children

Dental caries is the breakdown of teeth due to the growth of bacteria. This is the most common childhood disease. It happens to be concentrated among children living in poverty. This information alone goes to show that money is a main barrier for getting dental care. Low-income and minority children have about five times more untreated dental decay compared to children of high income families. A major reason for dental caries in children is because of food insecurity. Food insecurity increases the risk of developing childhood dental caries which can impact the ability to eat, speak, and learn. According to the Campaign for Dental Health and its neighboring organizations children in poverty do not have biannually dentist checkups because of the lack of money. This means children may experience missed school days, poor concentration in school due to tooth pain, risk of infection spreading, and an increased risk of poor oral health in adulthood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data form 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for 12,143 children ages 0-21 years to estimate the use of dental care and cost of preventive dental services. In this study, preventive measures were focused on treatment that prevents tooth decay which includes topical fluoride and sealants. A child’s age, race and ethnicity, health insurance status, dental insurance status, disability status, family income-poverty ratio, and head of household education were taken into account for the cost of dental services. Results showed that less than half of children used dental care and only approximately 14% received preventive dental services. However children between the ages of 0-21 years, those who were between the ages of 6-10 years were more likely to use dental care.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay  Data showed that the probability of getting dental care and the cost of preventive care was associated with being non-Hispanic black or Hispanic, having low income, and the head of the household having a lower educational level, and not having insurance. These groups of people were more likely to have untreated tooth decay compared to the general population. If a person is not educated about oral health, then they will not be able to determine the oral disease that they are at risk for and take action to prevent the disease from developing by seeking oral care. Children from families with higher income or education were more likely to receive preventive care, this also applies to children with private dental insurance.

Dental Coverage

There is an ongoing trend when it comes to the access of oral health care. When talking about preventative care; how oral health impacts physical health; and how oral health effects the lives of children, there is always one things that these three topics have in common. They all eventually relate back to dental coverage in some way. Dental coverage is seen as one of the major issues as to why many people go without oral health services. This is where the major flaw in the government and oral health system is found. They each try to help those who struggle with dental care. For example dental programs can be found that gives people of low socioeconomic status a chance to get their teeth worked on and the government has helped through health care acts. However this does not seem to solve the issue because there is obviously many people who suffer from oral diseases. The cause of this problem is the lack coordination between the two.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay


It is known that many people cannot afford attending the dentist. It is said that for every one adult without health insurance, there are three who do not have dental insurance. The government has taken steps to make health care more available and affordable for those who struggle with covering expenses. The government has formed health care programs which aim to decrease dental health issues by having government dental coverage available to those that are eligible for it. In March 2010, the United States Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted. This act had various issues that it planned to correct. The purpose of this act is to reduce the number of uninsured citizens, to slow the rising cost of the health care bill, to reorganize the health care delivery system, and to improve the quality of care provided to all. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act encouraged the integration of the different components of the health care systems. The process to achieve this goal was complicated and controversial and there are still flaws that need to be addressed.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

Have you ever thought about what could happen if you don’t practice good oral hygiene? Have you ever thought about the fact that cavities can lead to even more serious dental problems? Do you know that if you aren’t practicing good oral hygiene, you’re opening the door to dental problems that isn’t easy to close? If you don’t take care of your teeth,think about how much harder easy life tasks would be for you. It is not that hard to simply brush your teeth twice a day and floss them once. The effects of not having good oral hygiene are cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.

Oral health is a key indicator of overall health, well-being and quality of life. It encompasses a range of diseases and conditions that include dental caries, Periodontal disease, Tooth loss, Oral cancer, Oral manifestations of HIV infection, Oro-dental trauma, Noma and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 estimated that oral diseases affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, with untreated dental caries being among the most prevalent noncommunicable diseases. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the incidence of oral cancer was within the top three of all cancers in some Asian-Pacific countries in 2018.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

Most oral diseases and conditions share modifiable risk factors with the leading NCDs (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes). These risk factors include tobacco use, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets high in free sugars, all of which are increasing at the global level. There is a proven relationship between oral and general health. It is reported, for example, that diabetes mellitus is linked with the development and progression of periodontitis. Moreover, there is a causal link between high sugars consumption and diabetes, obesity and dental caries.

Many low income, racial, and ethnic groups lack access to dental care because they do not have insurance and cannot afford the expenses of the out-of-pocket costs. The government helps these people get access to dental care by making Medicaid available. Medicaid is a government program for people of all ages whose income and resources does not meet their need to pay for health care. However there are many other requirements that people have to meet in order to benefit from this program.Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

Imagine after years of being dead, a human body is found and all that is really left of them is their teeth. Why? It may be because of the way they took care of their teeth while they were alive and the precaution methods they were educated about. Educating people about oral health is really important because teeth are the strongest bone in our body and they even preserve the most after we pass away, this means it is an essential factor to knowing how to protect them from getting a disease and keeping them as long as possible. Most patients are not aware of diseases in dentistry. Educating the older and the young generation will help to care for their oral health.
We do not know if patients are aware of dental diseases because we…show more content…
They will start rotting and falling off before they know it. Although many Americans have good oral hygiene due to fluoride and making everyday good decisions, others do not have any access at all to oral health care. Over the years, dentists have been trying to demonstrate the importance of oral care. (“Access to Dental Care”) From commercials to campaigns, dentists will continue to demonstrate to their patients as well as to the people who don’t have insurance the importance of oral health care. They will teach them preventative care and some techniques on how to prevent from getting any diseases. Just because some people are getting older doesn’t mean you should stop caring for your teeth. Tooth decay may develop on an old restorative care, so you should still be visiting your dentist on a regular basis. There has been statistics that gum disease mostly develop in adults. The aging should still be taking care of their most important part of their body which is there teeth. Because some elders might believe in the saying “ if it aint broke, dont fix it”, its not so helpful at all. It doesn’t have to be broken to get fixed but if your teeth are rotting and damaging while you age you should be getting them fixed. (“Adult Dental Health”) That is why there are such things as dentures that can be put in as you age. Dentures are a replacement for teeth for a lifetime , but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them because Dental & Oral Health in United States Essay

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