According to a new ADA Health Policy Resources Center analysis of 2010 MEPS and U.S. Census data, 181 million Americans did not visit the dentist in 2010. Nearly half of adults over age 30 suffer from some form of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and nearly one in four children under the age of five already have cavities.
Surgeon General David Satcher?s landmark 2000report (Oral Health in America) identified a 'silent epidemic' of untreated oral disease among some populations groups. A subsequent ?National Call to Action? articulated an ambitious agenda for ending these disparities. We've made great progress, with each generation enjoying better dental health than the one before, said ADA President Robert A. Faiella, DMD, MMSc. ?But there?s still a dangerous divide in America between those with good dental health and those without. Our mission is to close that divide. Good oral health isn?t a luxury. It's essential.
The causes of the dental health crisis are varied and complex; however, dentists in America believe it can be solved, that it's never too late to take on this challenge, both as individuals and as a nation. Action for Dental Health is national and coordinated in its scope and approach, and is designed to address the dental health crisis in three distinct areas:
- Provide care now to people suffering with untreated disease
- Strengthen and expand the public/private safety net to provide more care to more Americans
- Bring dental health education and disease prevention into communities
"We need to remember that every infant is born cavity-free," said Dr. Faiella. The key for both kids and adults to maintain their dental health is effective prevention. That's why we're increasing our awareness efforts in schools and underserved communities. By working to ensure all Americans understand the connection between their dental and overall health, we can begin to solve this crisis.
To learn more about ADA's Action for Dental Health, click here.