In addition to low-income individuals not visiting the dentist, many have been relying on the emergency room for dental care, resorting to last-minute emergency solutions to preventable problems. Here are the stats from the Harris Interactive data as released by the ADA, which have prompted themn to launch the Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference campaign:
- Nearly half of lower-income adults say they haven't seen a dentist in a year or longer, while the vast majority of middle- and higher-income wage earners (70 percent) have.
- Lower-income adults 18 and older are more than two times as likely as middle- and higher-income adults to have had all of their teeth removed (7 percent vs. 3 percent).
- Nearly one in five (18 percent) lower-income adults have reported that they or a household member has sought treatment for dental pain in an emergency room at some point in their lives, compared to only seven percent of middle- and higher-income adults.
- Only six percent of those low-income adults who went to the ER reported that the problem was solved.
- Even though the Affordable Care Act offers little relief for adult Americans who lack dental coverage, 40% of lower-income adults believe that health care reform will help them obtain dental care.
The survey's findings echo prior research from multiple sources. 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.