Oral Health Disparities in America - Learn the FACTS


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  • Oral Health Care is integral to overall health. Poor Oral Health Care is associated with heart disease, stroke and preterm low-birth weight births (1). Poor Oral Health Care and its consequences affect people’s daily lives by interfering with eating, sleeping, working, and learning. Many diseases and conditions manifest themselves with oral symptoms and these early signs may be initially noted by dental care providers.
  • Since 1999, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of adults reporting unmet dental health care needs due to cost. In 1999, 8% of adults reported that they did not receive needed dental health services within the past 12 months because they could not afford them. By 2009, this percentage had increased to 15%.
  • In 2009, working adults age 18–44 and 45-64 years of age were more likely than children to report having unmet dental health care needs in the past 12 months because they could not afford care. Among working-age adults, women were more likely to report unmet dental health care needs than men.
  • In addition, adults aged 35-44 years with less than a high school education experience destructive periodontal (gum) disease nearly three times that of adults with a least some college education.
  • Adults and Oral Cancer. The 5 year survival rate is lower for oral pharyngeal (throat) cancers among black men than whites (36% versus 61%).


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health Care in America: A report of the Surgeon General—Executive summary. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health; 2000. Available from: National "CALL to ACTION" Report


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