Experiences with and Outcomes of Oral Health Care

Published 03/15/2024

Perspectives from Nationally Representative Data

To address disparities in oral health care, it’s critical to understand how people perceive and experience the oral health care system. CareQuest Institute’s annual State of Oral Health Equity in America survey does just that, providing an in-depth look at how a nationally representative sample of adults in the US experience oral health care.  

This report focuses on patient experiences with value-based care, medical-dental integration, minimally invasive care, teledentistry, and discrimination in the dental setting. Overall, adults understand the significance of oral health to overall health, but they have had little experience with some of these lesser-known topics in oral health care.

Key findings include:

  • Most adults (93%) say that oral health is at least as important to the overall health of a person as physical health.  
  • When asked what they associate most with value when thinking about their overall health care, adults were more likely to say quality of care (46%) than out-of-pocket costs (14%) or health improvement (11%).
  • Only 4% of respondents said they had been referred to a primary care provider by their oral health provider, while 7% said they had received a referral to another health care professional.
  • When asked about choosing a new minimally invasive treatment for cavities, 36% said they would choose the new treatment, 27% would choose a filling, and 27% were unsure.
  • Only 4% of adults have had a teledentistry visit, but most (71%) of those adults would use this technology again if offered.

Providing integrated dental and medical care across the life span . . . can help increase access to health screenings in underserved communities and improve overall health outcomes for patients. This report emphasizes the need for patient-focused outcomes within oral health care."

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