“According to the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, most Americans visit the dentist at least once a year, and those who do are 37 percent more likely to report their oral health as good or better versus those who infrequently find themselves in a dentist’s chair,” says Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, and vice president of dental science and policy for Delta Dental Plans Association. “Still, a lot of Americans take a break from routine dentist visits at some point in their lives.”
Nearly six of 10 Americans (58 percent) say they have felt fear or reluctance regarding a dental visit, according to the Delta Dental survey. Most said that they were afraid to find out what care they needed or that they couldn’t afford to pay for care. Younger Americans, ages 18 to 44, have felt more apprehension about visiting the dentist than those who are 45 and older.
Despite the fear and reluctance many Americans feel in going to the dentist, most (57 percent) say they feel refreshed after doing so. “More often than not, you feel good walking out of a dentist’s office. Your mouth feels cleaner, and your mind feels better because you are taking care of yourself,” Kohn says.
“Regular dental visits are part of important preventive care,” Kohn says. “It’s good to stay in, or get back into, the habit of visiting a dentist. Your dentist can help you to determine how often you need to visit.”
For people with existing mouth problems, such as gum disease, or medical problems like diabetes or dry mouth, one dental visit a year may not be enough, according to Kohn. For those at higher risk of developing oral problems, three or four visits a year may be best. “On the other hand,” Kohn says, “if you enjoy good oral health and have low risks, you will not need the same level of preventive treatments or exams.”
One way to stay in the habit is to find a regular dentist. According to the Delta Dental survey, nearly one in four Americans (23 percent) do not have a regular dentist, while 40 percent say they’ve been going to the same dentist for three years or more. Americans in the Midwest and Northeast are somewhat more likely to be in along-term relationship with their dentists than those in the South or West.
For more results from the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, visit deltadental.com.