Whenever there is breaking news or an announcement of the “next big thing” in personal health care, there’s a pretty good chance it’s NOT about dental care. From fad diets to which foods we should avoid to improving cognitive function, it seems like 99% of “health” news excludes everything and anything about the teeth and gums.
But recent scientific studies have underscored the importance of oral health. A widely-cited 2012 study confirmed what many doctors and dentists already knew: there’s a strong association between gum disease and diabetes. The study showed that people with poor dental health were up to 50% more likely to suffer from diabetes.
But that’s not all – sub par dental health has also been correlated with everything from heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, and more. Clearly, proper dental care is imperative for optimal overall fitness and disease prevention.
Dr. Dental, the leading network of family-friendly dentists throughout New England, understands how crucial dental health is. We’ve helped individuals and families all over the region maintain optimal oral health. Many of our patients fall into the 18-64 age group.
From our own care protocols and dental healthcare studies, U.S. adults in general can improve their oral healthcare habits. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than two-thirds of American adults (64%) visited their dentist within the past calendar year. Coupled with the fact that many people neglect daily brushing and flossing, it’s not hard to see how dental-related disorders are sometimes referred to as the “silent epidemic” in U.S. healthcare.
What are the most common dental problems faced by U.S. adults? And what can be done to treat or even reverse symptoms? Our team of dental care professionals looked into the issue, and here’s what we discovered.
Most Prevalent Dental Problems – Causes, Treatment, Prevention
For too many adults, dental care is one of those things that “simply takes care of itself.” This attitude can result in the following justifications:
- “I didn’t brush my teeth today, but so what? I’ll make sure to brush the twice as good tomorrow.”
- “Flossing? Who has time for that?”
- “I’ll just visit the dentist when something goes wrong.”
- “My teeth look OK on the surface – so what’s the big deal about brushing and flossing every day?”
Unfortunately, how your teeth appear on the outside doesn’t necessarily match how things are on the inside. Gum disease (as we’ll see very soon) develops with slight lapses in personal oral healthcare; skip one brushing your teeth before bed, and all of a sudden going a whole day with an idle toothbrush doesn’t seem that bad. Consider this: within just 20 minutes after eating, plaque begins to develop on the tooth surface. If left alone, this is just one area where seemingly minor factors can suddenly become big problems.
Something simple as plaque buildup, when expanded over time, can result in depressing statistics like these:
- 20% of older adults have untreated cavities.
- Adults aged 35-49 are about 300% more likely to suffer from gum disease than adults aged 18-34.
In order to start reversing these trends, it helps to know which problems currently afflict many adults in the U.S. – and what can be done to stop or reverse the issues. Here are some widespread dental disorders and associated problems we’ve noticed:
- Gum disease. Also called periodontal disease, this oral health disorder impacts about 50% of the adult U.S. population. Gum disease occurs when the gums become inflamed, red, and irritable. This inflammation stems from a number of factors, but infrequent brushing, poor flossing habits, and a diet loaded with sugar and processed carbohydrates are the primary causes behind gum disease. Treatment methods depend on the severity of the disease. For beginning stage or moderate periodontal disease, simply brushing and flossing more often can reverse symptoms. For serious cases of gum disease, a visit to the dentist is highly recommended.
- Other health problems related to poor dental habits. One of the most misunderstood aspects of dental health is its relation to overall health. According to recent studies, everything from heart disease to autoimmune disorders are linked to poor oral healthcare. The primary catalyst in the teeth and gums-to-other health problems link involves what is essentially “leaky gums,” which is similar to the much discussed “leaky gut syndrome” where bacteria “leaks” into the bloodstream, opening the floodgate for a host of health issues, including autoimmune diseases. A disciplined oral healthcare regimen, including brushing your teeth at least twice per day, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist on a consistent basis, has been shown to improve oral health – and in turn, overall health!
- Cavities. One of the most common dental issues for U.S. adults today in cavities (also referred to as “dental caries”). According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, more than 9 of every 10 U.S. adults have cavities. These small pits in your teeth are gateways to bacteria, disease and decay; once a cavity becomes large enough, the entire inner tooth (including sensitive pulp) is exposed – and that’s where the floodgates to tooth decay are unleashed. With proper brushing – we recommend a soft-bristle brush and at least twice daily brushing – any adult can limit their chances of cavities. Bonus tip: use an antibacterial mouthwash at least once per day. This will limit the development of plaque and tartar that cause cavities in the first place.
- Lack of dental insurance. This “dental problem” is more of a root cause than anything else – but it’s important nonetheless. Roughly 40% of Americans (including adults) lack long-term dental insurance. This lack of coverage is surprising to some, especially considering the recent push to implement universal health care in the United States. But keep in mind, dental insurance isn’t considered part of all insurance programs. Frequent job-hopping, scarcity of coverage in certain geographic regions, and personal preference (many people choose to decline coverage, even if offered as part of their employer’s plan) help explain this high “uncovered” stat. Dr. Dental accepts patients, even if they don’t have dental healthcare coverage. With flexible payment options and affordable dental services, we look forward to providing quality dental care for everyone – even if they lack dental insurance!
- Age-related tooth decay. A significant yet underreported dental problem with U.S. adults involves a correlation with age and progressively worse dental health. In other words, the older we become, the more likelihood we’ll encounter dental problems like tooth decay, periodontal disease, cavities, and more. One alarming statistic (from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics) shows that 96% of Americans over the age of 65 have tooth decay. Also, adults aged 40-64 are twice as likely (67% – 34%) to have tooth decay compared to adults aged 20-39. For older adults, frequent visits to the dentist can help combat the scourge of age-related tooth decay. If you’re in the northeast and haven’t been to the dentist in a while, click here to schedule an appointment today!
Dr. Dental: Helping Adults (and Children) Achieve Excellent Oral Health – One Patient at a Time!
Given the various issues that impact adult dental care in the United States, it’s important to stay on top of your teeth and gums. As we’ve seen from the many dental issues facing adults, simply visiting your local dentist every so often can reduce your chance of gum disease, tooth decay, cavities, and more.
Dr. Dental’s complete line of dental services are designed to give both adults and children complete dental care – all at ultra-affordable prices. Even if you don’t have dental insurance coverage, we’ll work with you on a reasonable payment plan, and our staff will look to get you the best possible service at the lowest possible price. At Dr. Dental, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to have a perfect smile!
Stop by any Dr. Dental office today – we have more than 40 locations in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New Jersey – and experience the dental care and customer service you deserve!