Americans limit or delay dental care due to financial concerns, survey finds

May 11, 2015

Nearly two in five American adults (39 percent) say they have limited or will delay dental care due to their financial situation, a number that has increased by nearly 8 percent in the past two years.

Nearly two in five American adults (39 percent) say they have limited or will delay dental care due to their financial situation, a number that has increased by nearly 8 percent in the past two years.

And they're making the decision despite knowing the long-term financial implications - 80 percent are aware that postponing or delaying routine visits will cost them more money in the long run, according to a survey of more than 1,000 adults conducted by ORC International and commissioned by Aspen Dental Management, Inc.

Among the other key findings of the survey:

  • More than half of survey respondents (53 percent) consider routine dental visits for exams and cleanings a "nice to have" that can be delayed.

  • Nearly one in five respondents (17%) would fix problems with their car ahead of addressing pain in their mouth.

"For millions of Americans, life is made up of hard financial choices, and, unfortunately, dental care has become discretionary, a 'nice to have' rather than a 'must do,'" says Dr. Schatzie Vincent, director of clinical support and community giving at Aspen Dental Management, Inc. "The dentists and teams at Aspen Dental-branded practices believe that everyone deserves a healthy mouth and are committed to breaking down barriers that have kept people from getting the dental care they need."

Americans who delay dental care face serious long-term dental problems. More than 2 million visits are made to hospital emergency rooms each year for dental pain, where treatment is nearly 10 times more expensive than the cost of preventive care. Emergency room visits for dental care are on the rise and cost nearly $1 billion a year. In addition to the financial implications, research shows  poor oral health can increase the risk for other serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer's.

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The Healthy Mouth Movement
To bridge the oral health care gap and provide much-needed care to those in need, the dentists and staff at Aspen Dental-branded practices across the country are volunteering their time and talents once again in 2015 through the Healthy Mouth Movement.

The Healthy Mouth Movement is a community giving initiative launched by Aspen Dental Management, Inc. and the dental practices it supports in 2014 to deliver free dental care and oral health education to people in need across the United States.

This year, the Healthy Mouth Movement will focus efforts on serving those who have served our nation to empower them by helping address their oral health issues. The Aspen Dental MouthMobile will travel to communities throughout the United States in partnership with local veterans' organizations, and participating Aspen Dental-branded practices will open for one day for free care for veterans later this year.

Related reading: New survey says kids' anxiety about dentists may be learned trait from parents