Couple Eating An Al Fresco MealYou might be surprised to learn how many adults report that their oral health interferes with their daily lives.

Results of the Oral Health and Well-being in the United States poll recently released by the American Dental Association found that 30 percent of participants rated the overall condition of their mouth and teeth as either “poor” or “fair,” and 28 percent of participants feel their lives are less satisfying due to the condition of their mouth and teeth. One in five low-income adults said their mouth and teeth are in poor condition, and 29 percent said that makes it difficult to perform well in job interviews.

One in four Americans avoids smiling because they are embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth, and one in five reported feeling anxiety over the condition of their mouth and teeth.

Still, 97 percent of those surveyed said they value oral health.

This poll conducted between June 23 and August 7, 2015 involved self-reported oral health data from nearly 15,000 Americans through a household survey that sought information such as:

  • How oral health affects daily functioning and well-
  • How the appearance of a person’s mouth and teeth impacts his/her ability to interview for a job.
  • Attitudes toward oral health and dental care.
  • Reasons for failing to visit the dentist as often as is recommended.

In addition to providing national numbers, results also were broken down by state. In Massachusetts, 29 percent of those surveyed rated the overall condition of their mouth and teeth as fair or poor. Of those in the low-income category, 15 percent of adults said their mouth and teeth are in poor condition.

Twenty-one percent of Massachusetts residents who participated in the survey reported that they felt life in general was less satisfying because of their oral health, either “occasionally” or “very often.” The primary oral health problem reported was difficulty biting and chewing.

Even though 98 percent of Massachusettsans said they value oral health and 87 percent said they believe they should visit their dentist as least two times every year, more than half said they have accepted that they will lose some teeth as they grow older.

“This was an eye-opening poll that shows the dental field has made great strides in helping Americans understand the value of oral health,” says Dr. Joseph Tartagni, a West Haven and Milford dentist. “But I think it also tells us that we have a long way to go in terms of overcoming barriers to treatment.”

The poll found that cost was the leading reason people don’t visit the dentist as often as they should – 59 percent nationally listed that as the primary reason, and 55 percent in Massachusetts.

“We educate our patients on the importance of preventive treatment as a way to keep dental costs down,” Dr. Tartagni says. “It is much cheaper to prevent a dental problem or fix it in its earliest stages than to address it once you’re in pain and the problem is affecting your ability to eat, drink or speak comfortably.”

Dental treatment often is attainable even for those without dental insurance through resources such as CareCredit, a healthcare credit card that offers interest-free options for qualified applicants. Please call our office today if you have additional questions or wish to schedule an appointment.