Oral Disease Is Common. Access to Care Is Not.

Published 07/06/2021

Oral diseases often cause pain and distress on their own — and they can lead to a variety of other health problems. To avoid those problems, access to dental care is critical. But in the U.S., that access is not universal.

A new visual report from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health illustrates how oral health care is inequitably distributed among Americans. Drawing on results from the State of Oral Health Equity in America 2021 survey of 5,320 adults, the report shows that people of color and those who have lower incomes bear a disproportionate burden of oral disease and disproportionately lack access to needed care. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse.

Key findings include:

  • The lower a person’s income, the higher the likelihood of having an oral health symptom in the last 12 months.
  • 65% of respondents who lost their health insurance due to job loss or change in benefits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had one or more oral health symptoms and did not get any treatment for them.
  • Black and Hispanic respondents were three times as likely as white respondents to report that they had never been to a dentist.

You may also be interested in:

  • A suite of resources — including visual reports and research reports — developed from findings from a nationally representative survey of consumer and patient attitudes, experiences, and behaviors on oral health.
  • Consumer Perspectives on Oral Health Access, Outcomes, and Quality of Care, a recent webinar featuring a panel of experts who discuss the disparities in dental insurance coverage and access to care, and explore findings on the effects of the social determinants of health.
  • More on how CareQuest Institute is focusing on health equity.