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Women's Health USA 2013 An illustrated collection of current and historical data, published annually.

Oral Health Care Utilization

Narrative

Regular dental care is essential to promote oral health and to prevent and treat tooth decay and infection. Untreated dental disease can produce significant pain and disability, and can result in tooth loss. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, the American Dental Association recommends regular dental exams and cleanings.1 In 2011, women were somewhat more likely to have a past-year dental visit than men (64.6 and 57.8 percent, respectively). Among both men and women, those with greater household incomes were more likely to have had a dental visit. For example, 82.3 percent of women with household incomes of 400 percent or more of poverty had a past year dental visit, compared to 42.6 percent of women with incomes less than 100 percent of poverty.

Cost is a significant barrier to appropriate utilization of dental care. In 2011, only 20.4 percent of adults had private insurance coverage that included dental care (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). Medicaid and Medicare generally do not cover dental care and even private plans with dental coverage contain limited benefits with high cost-sharing.2 In 2011, 16.4 percent of women reported that they did not obtain needed dental care in the past year because they could not afford it; this was slightly higher than the percentage of men who reported an unmet need for dental care due to cost (13.0 percent). The likelihood of not getting dental care due to cost varies significantly by health insurance coverage. For example, only 7.0 percent of women with private insurance that included dental benefits reported that they did not obtain needed dental care in the past year due to costs, which nearly doubles to 13.7 percent of women with private insurance that did not include dental benefits. However, the likelihood of not getting needed dental care because of cost was considerably higher for women with public insurance (22.7 percent) and highest for women without any insurance (36.3 percent).

1 American Dental Association link leaves hrsa.gov site. Questions About Going to the Dentist. Accessed 09/11/13.

2 Kaiser Family Foundation link leaves hrsa.gov site, Commission on Medicaid and the Underserved. Oral Health and Low-Income Nonelderly Adults: A Review of Coverage and Access. June 2012.  Accessed 09/11/13.

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Graphs

Data

Past-Year Dental Visit Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, by Poverty Level,* 2011
Poverty Level Percent of Adults, Female Percent of Adults, Male
*Poverty level, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, was $23,021 for a family of four in 2011; all estimates are age-adjusted.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2011. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Less than 100% of Poverty 42.6 36.7
100-199% of Poverty 48.0 37.3
200-399% of Poverty 65.9 55.5
400% of Poverty or More 82.3 75.1
Total 64.6 57.8
Unmet Need for Dental Care Due to Cost Among Adults Aged 18 and Older,* by Health Insurance Coverage,** 2011
Health Insurance Coverage Percent of Adults, Female Percent of Adults, Male
*Reported needing dental care in the past year, but not getting it because of costs; all estimates are age-adjusted.
**Private coverage includes persons with any private insurance, either alone or in combination with public coverage; public includes those covered only by government programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, military plans, and state-sponsored health plans.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2011. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Private Insurance with Dental Coverage 7.0 4.7
Private Insurance without Dental Coverage 13.7 10.0
Public Insurance 22.7 18.3
Uninsured 36.3 28.5
Total 16.4 13.0