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Oral health and dental care in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Oral health is an important, but often overlooked and underrated aspect of a person’s general health. Common oral diseases and conditions include tooth decay or dental cavities or caries, bad breath, dry mouth, periodontitis or gum disease, including gingivitis, and oral cancer. Although genetics play a role in the susceptibility and severity of many such conditions, simple oral care can greatly reduce the chances of suffering from a number of oral conditions. This care involves regularly brushing teeth, flossing, avoiding risk factors like smoking and sugary foods and drinks, and visiting the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.

Oral health problems

One of the most common oral health problems are cavities, or dental caries, which are the deterioration of teeth due to bacteria. In 2015-2016, around 46 percent of youth aged 2 to 19 years suffered from dental caries, with 13 percent untreated. Much less common, but more serious, are rates of oral cancer. Approximately 10, 126 people died from cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx in the U.S. in 2017, although the five-year survival rate of such cancers is around 66 percent.

Dental professionals and the cost of treatment

Such numbers highlight the need for dental professionals and receiving dental treatment. In the U.S. there were an estimated 200,419 active dentists in 2019, that was around 61 dentists per 100,000 civilians. Unfortunately, the cost of dental services keeps many Americans from seeking the dental care that they need. In fact, in 2018, around 10 percent of people in the U.S. reported that in the past year they needed dental services, but did not receive needed services due to the cost. Since 1990, the cost of dental services in the U.S. has risen significantly, reflecting the struggle for many to afford dental treatment.


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