Are Cost Concerns Delaying Dental Cleanings? Survey Says Yes

Public opinion research released from the Delta Dental Institute found that U.S. adults were more likely to report that concerns about inflation and rising prices, rather than concerns about COVID-19, prompted them to delay oral health care.

The poll found that 95% of adults agree oral health is essential to overall health. Almost 6 in 10 said they would continue to receive routine, preventive dental care to avoid major health care costs down the line, even if money were tight. But almost half of adults surveyed — including 42% of dental and health care workers — said they delayed or canceled a dental cleaning, citing inflation and rising costs as their primary concern. Adults in lower income brackets were much more likely to delay oral health care than their higher-earning counterparts.

Everyone deserves a healthy smile, but that can be harder to come by if costs are a barrier to care, particularly for those in underserved communities. It’s important to remember that oral health is critical to overall health. That’s why, as part of our focus on whole-person health, Delta Dental member companies are investing in innovative research, products, technology, and partnerships to help ensure equitable access to affordable oral health care. Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation’s community grants and partnerships are just one way we’re improving access to dental care in underserved communities in Arizona.

The survey also found clear bipartisan support for Medicare and Medicaid to provide dental coverage with 93% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans supporting dental coverage in Medicare, and 86% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans supporting state-based Medicaid coverage for oral health. About 85% of adults overall, and especially older adults, would like to see Medicare include dental care. Almost two-thirds of seniors also said they would be more likely to visit the dentist regularly if Medicare covered dental care. And 76% of adults—including a majority of HR professionals surveyed—said Medicaid should require states to include dental care.

The survey was administered by FGS Global in October 2022, among 1,321 U.S. adults, including seniors (ages 65 and older), human resource professionals, and dental & health care workers. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4% for adults, and +/- 6% for smaller audiences.

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