According to a recently released report prepared by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 20 percent of Americans have untreated dental cavities. One of the authors of the report concluded that untreated tooth decay is widespread in the United States, especially in low income families. The report was based on information gathered from 2005 to 2008 and revealed that little progress has been made to prevent tooth decay in the last ten years.
In addition, the report noted that about half of all adults between the ages of 20 and 65 have lost one or more natural teeth. Most alarming was the finding that 23 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have lost all of their natural teeth. Tooth loss has not only been linked to a decline in oral health, but also to reduced levels of overall health. It is well established that denture wearers have a poorer diet and lower overall health due to the avoidance of certain types of hard to eat foods. Denture wearers tend to eat a diet comprised of soft or mashed foods.
Experts attribute some of the problem to the reduction or elimination of dental health care benefits during the recent recession. Those without dental health care benefits tend to avoid visiting the dentist and even those with some sort of dental benefits have cut back due to the out of pocket costs.
While cutting back on dental care can provide short term relief for family budgets stretched to the limit, in the long run dental health care costs will be much greater as will general health care costs. Maintaining good oral health habits such as daily brushing and flossing and avoiding sugary foods and drinks will help avoid cavities. Regular dental cleaning and checkups will catch problems early and avoid more expensive dental care down the road.
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