While it’s true that the oral health situation is better than it once was, the fact of the matter is that it could still do with being improved. There are still a significant number of dental implants (Birmingham and beyond), as well as fillings and other dental complications. This is predominantly down to the sheer cost of dental care, which often isn’t an affordable option for the average family. As a result, the vicious cycle of poverty and poor health takes hold. It’s not just the cost of dental care; processed food packed full of sugar is more affordable than fresh food, meaning children from low-income families are twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay.
Detailed above are just some of the reasons behind the oral health crisis in the US; however, it runs much deeper than this.
Oral Hygiene Products Aren’t on the List of SNAP-Approved Items
Low-income families often depend on food stamp programs, and dental products are seldom covered by these programs. As a result, families that struggle financially are forced to choose between food and toothpaste/toothbrushes. The sad truth is that so many children get excited about receiving a toothbrush when this should be a human right. Unfortunately, some families are forced to share one toothbrush, and they may not even be able to afford the toothpaste to make brushing their teeth worthwhile. Naturally, this lifestyle won’t result in good oral health, making this partly responsible for the oral health crisis in the US.
Oral Health isn’t a Priority for the Government
Unfortunately, oral health isn’t a priority for the US government, meaning very few children actually receive public assistance for dental care. 39 million children in the country are on Medicaid, but only about half of these receive the financial help they need when it comes to accessing dental care. This is predominantly down to the fact that there are very few dentists that will actually accept the low reimbursement rates provided by government initiatives. Since oral health isn’t a priority for the government, they’re not willing to invest more in this reimbursement, further contributing to the vicious cycle.
There’s a Low Number of Providers
The world is more populated than it has ever been before, and this means that in many areas, there simply aren’t enough dentists to cater to the community. In fact, of the 58 million people who live in Dental Care Health Professional Shortage Areas, only 29% are having their dental needs met. While people often believe that this is only a problem in rural areas, the issue also exists in urban areas. There simply aren’t enough dentists across the globe to accommodate the number of individuals in need of dental care.
There’s Ignorance About the Importance of Oral Health
For the vast majority of us, we simply don’t understand how important our oral health is to our overall health. As a result, we might skip a trip to the dentist in a bid to cut costs or to ensure that we’re not missing out on a day’s work. Dental issues are not ones that get better on their own; when you leave dental complications alone, they only worsen. The worse the complications get, the more painful they become and the more expensive they get, making them even more difficult to manage.
Oral Health isn’t a Priority for Many Families
Last but not least, dental care is expensive. Most families have other expenses to fork out for, meaning that dental care falls further and further down the priority list. It’s for this reason that so many families go without the dental care they need.