Targeting the ‘Dental Divide’

A nationwide campaign was announced last month by the American Dental Association to reduce the number of adults and children in this country with untreated dental disease.  The campaign, Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, was presented before members of Congress, national media representatives and oral health professionals by Dr. Robert Faiella, ADA president.

The ADA released a study last month also, the Dental Divide in America Study, at the same time as the new campaign.  The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive in April and results from the study show there is a dental divide in America between low-income and middle-and-higher income individuals.  According to the study:

  • Lower-income adults are two times as likely as middle-and-higher income adults to have all of their teeth removed
  • Nearly one in five (18%) lower-income adults reported they had sought treatment for dental pain in an emergency room compared to 7% of middle-and-higher-income adults
  • Nearly half of lower-income adults had not seen a dentist in more than a year; 70% of middle-and-higher income earners had visited their dentists in the past year

According to the ADA, 181 million Americans did not visit a dentist in 2010, and nearly half of all adults age thirty and older suffer from some form of gum disease.  The CDC reports that nearly one in four children under the age of five already have cavities in their teeth.

The Action for Dental Health Campaign is focusing on three areas:

  1. Provide care now to people suffering with untreated disease.
  2. Strengthen and expand the public/private safety net to provide more care to more Americans.
  3. Bring dental health education and disease prevention to communities.

To learn more about the ADA’s Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, visit