Americans Are Still Not Getting the Dental Care They Need

Published 04/18/2022

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, how are Americans faring in terms of oral health? In 2022, CareQuest Institute conducted the second annual State of Oral Health Equity in America survey ― a nationally representative survey of nearly 6,000 adults to study knowledge, attitudes, experiences, and behaviors related to oral health. This report is the first in a series of upcoming reports that will summarize the findings.

Responses to the 2022 survey reveal that while some aspects of oral health have rebounded since the earlier stage of the pandemic, several inequities persist. Key findings include: 

  • More than half of adults (55%) reported some type of oral health problem. 
  • More than half of adults with an oral health problem did not seek care, and one-quarter of them did not seek care because they could not afford it. 
  • In both 2021 and 2022, the most frequently cited dental problems were: toothache (23% in 2021 and 2022); cracked or broken teeth (20%; 18%); swollen or bleeding gums (18%; 17%); and frequent dry mouth (15%; 17%). 
  • For those who had not seen an oral health provider in the last two years, 27% cited cost as a reason, 18% cited the COVID-19 pandemic, and 11% said they had no reason to go.  
  • The report also recommends solutions to increase access to care, such as expanding Medicaid adult dental benefits, teledentistry, and expanding the reach of the oral health care workforce.  

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