It seems like the US oral health system is failing its citizens. Six in ten Americans rate oral health as either “fair,” “poor,” or “very poor,” according to independent research commissioned by DentaQuest and conducted by KRC Research. More than half of patients (51%) are concerned with their oral health, making it the top health concern over heart, eye, digestive, mental, and skin health.
Yet three in four Americans (75%) say they have encountered barriers to accessing dental care. The main barrier being cost (52%) and lack of insurance (31%). Despite these challenges, dentists, physicians, and employers agree on solutions to improve the oral health system in the United States.
What Did the Info Say
The independent survey polled more than 2,300 Americans – including dentists, physicians, patients, employee benefits administrators, and Medicaid dental administrators. The corresponding research report, “Reversible Decay: Oral Health is a Public Health Problem We Can Solve,” represents a unique view of common concerns and potential solutions for America’s oral health care challenges.
Among the survey’s key findings:
America’s oral health system is failing and unlikely to improve
More than 90% of dentists and physicians (and 79% of patients) recognize the connection between oral health and overall health. Despite its key role in overall health, the oral health system is failing Americans and is unlikely to improve.
Patients say oral health care is “expensive” (70%), “scary” (32%), “confusing” (28%), and “inconvenient” (27%). 66% of dentists agree oral health care is too expensive for their patients and one in four dentists, physicians, and employers agree oral health care is confusing. Further, eight in ten physicians predict that Americans’ oral health will either stay the same or get worse.
Most Americans are misinformed about dental coverage under Medicaid & Medicare
74% of patients are either unsure if Medicaid includes dental benefits, or believe it does. 62% are either unsure if Medicare includes dental benefits, or believe it does. Most patients believe Medicare (80%) and Medicaid (78%) should cover dental care. In reality, Medicare does not currently carry dental benefits.
Key stakeholders agree on solutions to America’s oral health challenges
Despite the many challenges facing the oral health system, most dentists (93%), physicians (86%), and employers (82%) agree greater collaboration across medical and dental providers would improve patient care. Dentists believe innovative practices can be effective for overcoming patient barriers to care, such as, school-based dentistry (68%), collaborative care teams (64%), and wraparound services like transportation or childcare (46%).
Patients and employers support dental insurance models that emphasize value of care over volume of procedures
Nearly half of patients (48%) think dental insurance should be based primarily on the impact the procedure will have on overall health, not on the procedures’ total cost. Most employers (87%) agree oral health benefits should prioritize healthy outcomes over volume of services delivered.
DentaQuest, the nation’s leading oral health care organization, commissioned the survey to better understand the beliefs and attitudes of key stakeholders. The findings are based on independent public opinion research conducted by KRC Research through a July 2019 online survey.
Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg who cares for his patients unlike any other dentist in South Florida, primarily the Plantation area, says that much of this is true and that we can do better about getting more people covered for such an important need for our overall health. So whether you are getting extensive work done like root canals, Invisalign, crowns, or full dentures, or lighter work such as whitening, fillings, or preventative oral care, this is your dentist’s office.
Dr. Rosenberg is a Miami, Florida native who received his undergrad degree from Emory University and got his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Georgetown University Dental School. He has been in private practice for over 20 years. Dr. Rosenberg is President-Elect of the Broward County Dental Association. He is Vice President of the Broward Dental Research Clinic where has been on the board of directors for five years. He is a member of the Intracoastal Study Club. Professional memberships include the American Dental Association, the Florida Dental Association, the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association, and the Broward County Dental Association.