With February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2023’s States with the Best & Worst Dental Health, as well as expert commentary.
In order to determine where people have the healthiest teeth and gums in the U.S., WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 26 key metrics. The data set ranges from the share of adolescents who visited a dentist in the past year to dental treatment costs to dentists per capita.
Dental Health in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):
38th – Percentage of Adolescents Who Visited a Dentist in the Past Year
32nd – Percentage Of Adults Who Visited a Dentist in the Past Year
41st – Dental Treatment Costs
16th – Dentists per Capita
18th – Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption
51st – Percentage of Adults Who Experienced Oral Pain in the Past Year
23rd – Percentage of Adults with Low Life Satisfaction Due to Their Oral Condition
For the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-best-worst-dental-health/31498
What tips do you have for a person that wishes to maintain dental health without breaking the bank?
“Since many people in the United States do not have dental insurance, getting quality dental care for an affordable price is a necessity, especially for underserved populations. For economical dental care, people should investigate dental hygiene and dental schools in their area. The dental hygiene and dental students in these schools provide high-quality care, overseen by licensed dental hygiene and dental educators, at an affordable cost that is often about 10 percent of what a private dental office charges. Secondly, people should investigate if they have a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) in their vicinity. These Federal facilities offer care on a sliding fee scale, meaning those with lower incomes pay less for dental services. Thirdly, people can investigate if their state participates in Mission of Mercy (MOM) events, where thousands of people are provided with free dental treatment each year. These clinics offered a few times a year, typically at large convention centers, provide services such as dental x-rays, cleanings, extractions, fillings, root canals, and dentures, for no cost.”
Marie R. Paulis, RDH, MSDH – Assistant Professor; Dental Hygiene Program Director, University of New Haven
Should school sealant programs be extended more aggressively, especially in low-income areas in order to better prevent tooth decay in the school-age population?
“Sealant programs create smoother and more easily cleanable surfaces and prevent decay. It is a great way to prevent dental disease, however, it is not the only way. Low-income areas tend to be ‘food deserts’ meaning it is easy to access take-outs and candy but harder to access fruits, vegetables, and grocery stores. Good nutrition is also an important part of oral health. Another inexpensive public health measure that has a huge impact is simple patient education that helps them accomplish excellent home care processes; i.e., teaching kids and adults how to brush and floss effectively. Remember that dental decay and gum disease is, essentially, completely preventable. I would still recommend sealants but want to be clear that multiple approaches are needed to address the risk factors in low-income areas.”
Romesh P. Nalliah, DDS, MHCM – Associate Dean for Patient Services and Clinical Professor of Dentistry, University of Michigan
How can dental health care be made more affordable?
“One way would be to implement more school sealant programs and increase public health initiatives that reduce decay. Additionally, ensuring dental professionals such as dental hygienists are allowed to practice to the fullest extent of their education. There is a shortage of dentists globally, and further utilizing the skills of a dental hygienist could help address both access to care as well as affordability. If a dental hygienist were allowed to achieve direct reimbursement in more areas, he or she could help drive costs down as well as oral disease rates.”
Carissa Regnerus, RDH BSDH MA – Associate Professor; Lead Clinic Director Dental Hygiene, University of South Dakota