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There is a dental health crisis in America, compounded by the fact that many people do not have access to dental insurance - nor do they purchase discount dental plans, which could help them gain access to the care they need. Professionals in the dental health community have decided that they can no longer sit by and watch as this problem worsens. This is why the American Dental Association recently announced that they will be launching a campaign called Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, the goal of which will be to reduce the number of Americans who have dental problems that have not been cared for by a dentist.
In a statement, the ADA cited some disturbing statistics from a recent survey about the state of dental health in America. The survey questioned more than 1,200 adults and found that nearly half of lower-income adults said they had not visited a dentist in a year or longer, compared to 70 percent of middle- and higher-income individuals. This is a major issue, considering that it is recommended that people visit the dentist at least twice a year if they want to have optimal dental health.
More efforts are needed
The survey also found that lower-income adults are more than twice as likely to have all of their teeth removed, compared to higher-income individuals. Furthermore, nearly one in five lower-income individuals reported that some member of their household has gone to the emergency room for dental pain, yet rarely can dental issues be resolved in these places. The survey also discovered that 40 percent of lower-income adults surveyed believe that they will gain access to dental coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, the ACA will mostly only offer dental coverage to children, which is something that everyone without insurance needs to understand.
In 2000, Surgeon General David Satcher released a report on dental health in America, which also showed serious issues. Dentists stepped up to fight the battle then, but it has yet to be won.
"We've made great progress, with each generation enjoying better dental health than the one before," said ADA President Robert Faiella, D.M.D., M.M.Sc. "But there's still a dangerous divide in America between those with good dental health and those without. Our mission is to close that divide. Good oral health isn't a luxury. It's essential."
There's a plan
Dentists are formulating a plan to improve dental health in the country in different ways. First, the dentists want to make sure that no one goes to the ER for dental care. According to a report done by CBS News, going to the ER for dental matters is incredibly expensive and inefficient. While a routine teeth cleaning from a dentist costs about $50 or $100, going to the ER can result in a $1,000 bill. The article explained that in Florida alone, an estimated 200 children were brought to the ER for dental-related issues in 2006.
Along with preventing people from heading to the ER, the ADA said that they want to implement long-term care plans in at least 10 states, which would aim to improve the dental health of people in nursing homes. These individuals often struggle to gain access to care. They also want to help provide care to all people who need it by expanding the number of dentists in an area.
Finally, the ADA wants to increase community education programs that inform people of the importance of dental care and what they need to do if they want to have a sparkling smile, in the hope that all Americans will have clean, healthy teeth.
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