A study out of the University of Michigan finds 1 in 3 middle-aged Americans suffer poor dental health.
The Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan, with support from AARP and Michigan Medicine, conducted the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging poll and found the following:
33% of Americans aged 50-64 are embarrassed by the condition of their teeth
Close to 40% suffer pain, difficulty eating and missing work due to their teeth
40% do not get regular cleanings or preventative care for their dental health
28% lack dental insurance
51% are concerned they won’t have dental coverage once they turn 65
Many of the study participants only went to the dentist once the dental issue was serious
13% are hoping that Medicare or Medicaid will provide their dental coverage, but traditional Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental care and Medicaid dental benefits are rare.
The majority of the respondents understand the importance of routine preventative dental care and would seek evaluation earlier if they could.
Study author Dr. Preeti Malani, stated, “Even those who were diligent about seeing the dentist and had dental insurance throughout adulthood may find it harder to afford dental care as they get older and coverage options may be more limited.”
Other issues that affect one seeking dental care include fear of having a dental procedure and lack of local dental specialists in their city or town.
Emphasis needs to be put on ensuring dental care is apart of Medicare or any new healthcare system, and should include children and adults of all ages.
Tooth decay and gum disease can be linked to a variety of health issues including cardiovascular risk.
The American Dental Association recommends the following:
Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
Flossing once a day
Drinking plenty of water and keeping a healthy diet
Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or sooner if frayed or damaged
Dental check ups once or twice a year, or more often if needed.
The moral, don’t wait till the last minute. Regular checkups prevent worsening issues, and a dental issue caught early is easier, and less expensive, to treat.
For more on this study, see here.
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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD, FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.