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Adult Visits to the Dentist

November 12th, 2013

There is a disturbing trend in dentistry in the United States.  It seems that adults are visiting the dentist at record low rates.  And it’s not just the recent economy at work.  The downturn began in 2000, well before the current economic woes.
It’s a strange phenomenon.  It has been well documented that good dental health is a vital component of good overall health.  Adults with uncontrolled periodontal disease have more difficulty controlling other chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis.  One insurance company released data in 2012 documenting higher health care costs for those patients.  The savings for the treated patients were significant.  You would think that this would drive more people to the dental office, but not so.
And the trend is across all socio-economic groups.  Lower income adults were less likely to visit the dentist than higher income adults, but they all dropped significantly.  Overall, about half the population of adults don’t go routinely.  Yes, that’s right, HALF.
Certainly, the public is aware that dentists are out there.  And most know that at least yearly visits are recommended.  Dental expenses have been viewed as a discretionary expense by many.  Costs are not often included in the family budget so the visits get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.  Many times it’s just a case of lack of careful planning.
Some feel that they can wait until something hurts.  Unfortunately, since dental problems often have little or no symptoms until later stages, this plan can have serious implications.  By the time it hurts, damage can be beyond the simple fixes.  Costs can escalate beyond what was saved by avoiding the regular checkups and cleanings.

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