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Dental health across the country is not equal, for a variety of reasons that a recent study broke down. We break down the key takeaways from this study and why the states considered to have the best dental health were ranked that way.
Dental Health across the country is not equal for everyone, and where you live may impact the way patients perceive your practice.
When it comes to dental care prevention is always cheaper than treatment of a major complication. Yet for some people they aren’t able to get to the dentist before it’s too late, and according to the CDC 36% of adults will go over a year without even seeing the dentist.
Some of the reasons that keep people away from the dentist chair include, but are not limited to, poor insurance coverage, inability to pay for routine visits, and fear of pain from treatment that sometimes can lead to a phobia of going to the dentist in the first place. These conditions are not, however, the only factors creating a disparity of dental health across the country.
In their study from earlier in the year WalletHub investigated which states have the best dental health overall based on two major categories, “dental habits and care” and “oral health”. These two categories were given individual scores which were combined for a total score out of 100 to determine which states had the best dental health based on their findings.
These two categories were also broken down by a number of key indicators. For instance, “Dental Habits & Care” had key indicator factors such as share of adolescents who visited a dentist in the past year, dental treatment costs, dentists per capita, and free or low cost dental clinics per capita. For “Oral Health” this was broken down into factors such as poor or fair oral condition, share of elderly population with no natural teeth, pain due to oral condition, and reduced life satisfaction due to oral condition.
After all the calculations the rankings might surprise you. Below you can take a look at the top 5 states with the best dental health and a further breakdown of key factors that helped get them there.
Wisconsin came in as the top state with the best overall score between dental habits and care and oral health, which it ranked 1 and 6 in respectively. Wisconsin also has the fourth lowest percentage of adults with low life satisfaction due to oral condition.
North Dakota ranked second overall for dental habits and care and just kept itself in the top 10 in oral health by landing in the number nine spot. North Dakota also tied for third with Iowa as the state with the lowest percentage of adults who experienced oral pain in the past year, as well as, being the top state for lowest percentage of adults with low life satisfaction due to their oral condition, with a difference of seven times more than the worst state.
Minnesota also remained in the top ten for the two main metric categories. It is also the only state in the top 5 overall states to rank in the top 5 for highest percentage of adults who visited a dentist in the past year and the top state with the lowest percentage of adults with a poor or fair oral condition.
Connecticut is the first of the top 5 states to get knocked out of the top ten for one of the two major metric categories, in this case, dental habits and care. The state also stands out for having the lowest sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and ranking third in lowest percentage of adult smokers.
While Illinois ranks at 22nd for dental habits and care it is the number one state when it comes to oral health. Illinois is also tied for first with Connecticut for lowest percentage of adults who experience oral pain in the past year.
The bottom five states with the worst dental health, based off this study, are Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, and Louisiana. None of these states scored below 30 points overall but none of them made it above 40 points as well. However, Alabama and Mississippi are tied for first in lowest dental treatment costs.
The top 5 states also did not show up in the top 5 list for most dentists per capita. Those states were Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, California, and New Jersey, New Jersey and Montana were the only two states from this list that are in the top 10 states with the best dental health overall.
While the study did not display state rankings for oral health knowledge index, a key metric under dental habits and care, it is important to note that education of oral health remains one of the best ways to help patients prevent major problems down the road. Ensure the dental health of your patients, regardless of the state you’re in, by helping them to understand just how important they play a role in tackling their own dental health.