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Rising Oral Health Problems in the USA

Did you know that in the US, the number of people visiting the ER because of delayed dental care is increasing day by day? According to an article on USA Today, the number of people visiting the ER on account of dental problems had doubled from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.2 million in 2012. That means one person per 15 seconds has a dental emergency in the country. "This is something I deal with daily, and there is not a week that goes by that we don't have someone hospitalized. People still die from their teeth in the U.S," says George Kushner, Director of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Program at the University of Louisville.

One of the major reasons for this situation is the lack of insurance coverage for dental care. While dental services for children are covered under health plans under the Affordable Care Plan, adults have nowhere to go. The general Medicaid plans that most Americans depend on for health care don't usually cover dental care, which leads people to abstain from regular dental visits, which in turn l eads to the poor dental health rate in the USA. Statistics show that over one-third of adults and around 64% of senior citizens lacked any form of dental coverage in 2012. With a shortage of around 7,000 dentists in the US in 2012, around 10% of the people with Medicaid plans were also struggling to find a dentist. In the existing numbers, more than 80% of the dentists don't entertain people with Medicaid plans because of the lower reimbursement. All this is leading to declining oral health conditions in the USA.

Major Oral Health Problems

According to an article on Healthline Media, around a quarter of American citizens over the age of 65 have lost their teeth. Another one-third is suffering from tooth decay, irrespective of the fact that bad dental health can be linked to heart diseases and other ailments like diabetes. The number of people dying from oral cancer every year is around 8,000, of which most are elderly.

According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 27% of the adult population in the age group of 20-44 have untreated cavities. Other major oral health concerns include:

  • Gum Disease: Gingivitis is the first and only reversible stage of this disease. If left untreated, it might lead to more serious conditions, like periodontitis.
  • Dry Mouth: Certain health conditions and medications can lead to dry mouth. It is not a big problem in itself but when your mouth lacks the cleansing effect of saliva, it aggravates tooth decay and other oral health problems.
  • Oropharyngeal Cancer: It can affect any area of your mouth, including the lips, gums, jaw and throat. Caught early, this disease is treatable by a good dentist. 
  • Missing Teeth: Tooth decay, worn out tooth enamel, gum disease, anything can be a reason for tooth loss.

Oral Care

Like regular health checks ups for the body, regular dental visits are a must to maintain proper oral health. Irrespective of whether you brush your teeth twice a day, visiting a dentist regularly ensures that oral health issues are kept at bay and any problem that you might encounter is taken care of before it develops further complications, giving you more reasons to keep that smile on all day, say experts at Revitalizing Smiles. It is understandable that preventive care like regular checkups is expensive but considering the fact that the treatment cost after something goes wrong is much worse, it is safe to say that prevention is better than cure, when it comes to dental care. The ADA is also encouraging the idea of increased health coverage for adult dental care. Till it comes into effect, all a person has to remember is that it is your own health and your own smile that you will be putting at risk when you ignore oral care.

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