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Americans are taking the oral-systemic link more seriously.

Report reveals growing respect among population regarding oral-systemic link

June 10, 2024
American consumers say they're taking their oral health more seriously due to their better understanding of the oral-systemic link. Overall, they're practicing better preventive care.
Meg Kaiser, Associate Editor

Good news dental professionals: your hard work is paying off! The 2024 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness Report from Delta Dental shows a crucial shift in consumer awareness of the connection between oral health and overall health. (The results are from 1,000 adults ages 18-plus, and 1,000 parents of children ages 12 and under.)

Adults increasingly understand the oral-systemic link and as a result, report that they are practicing better oral health care habits. The number of preventive dental visits is up, as 91% said that a preventive visit to their dentist is just as important as their annual physical. More kids are following recommended hygiene habits, with 72% of children brushing at least twice daily.

With preventive visits up, unexpected visits to dental offices are down. The good news continues with the fact that dental insurance coverage reached a five-year high, therefore more people have access to at least an annual dental visit. Eighty-five percent report they invested in dental insurance to provide financial assurance, while 88% said it would help them prevent dental emergencies.

The numbers are encouraging

Ninety-two percent of adults indicated they have a better understanding of how their oral health is closely related to their overall health, and 96% of parents recognize this link in their children. Taking it one step further, people are understanding more how their oral health is linked to specific conditions, citing heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses.

The adults who are most in sync with this message are members of Gen Z and millennials.  According to the report, they “take a more holistic view, with Gen Z and millennials most likely to appreciate oral health’s connection to specific conditions. Exposure to health information via social media could contribute to this generational gap.” Also, with the stigma around mental illness lifting, members of these generations are more likely to acknowledge that oral health is related to one’s mental health.

Why the growing respect for oral health?

Partial credit for this good news can be attributed to teledentistry visits, which allows dental professionals to use photos, videos, and even AI when visiting with their patients online. Teledental visits are on the rise, as people may be more inclined to consult with their dentist or dental hygienist from the comfort of their home, especially if they suffer from dental anxiety.

Another reason for the encouraging numbers—people want to save money. Who doesn't these days? The survey revealed people realized they can save money down the road on emergency dental care if they follow recommended oral hygiene habits today. Ninety-one percent said saving money was their top motivator for proper oral care, followed by 74% who said their oral care is to prevent cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Another motivator for good oral health is to provide more confidence. Nine in 10 adults said that proper dental care makes them feel more confident, while three in four said proper oral care is related to mental well-being. Members of the two younger generations noted some of the discomfort they experience with dental issues, including anxiety and lost sleep. A person's self-confidence often increases when they're not worried about the state of their mouth.

Overall, the report reveals trends that dental professionals no doubt hope will continue. People taking care of their oreal health will lead to numerous benefits in the long run, and at the top of the list is better overall health and well-being. Patients have received your message!

Read the entire report from Delta Dental

About the Author

Meg Kaiser | Associate Editor

Meg Kaiser is an associate editor in Endeavor Business Media’s Dental Division. She works on DentistryIQ.com, RDH eVillage and RDH Graduate newsletters, Dental Economics magazine, and RDH magazine, and has for nearly 20 years. She knew she'd caught the dental bug when she began preaching oral-systemic health to everyone she met. Contact her at [email protected].