ADA Reports More Americans Getting Needed Dental Care

American Dental Association (ADA) drafted a report showing that more Americans were able to access the dentist in 2012 than in 2004. This reverses a decade-long trend in which more and more people said they were unable to get needed dental care. However, the number of people unable to get dental care remains high, and challenges remain.

Increased Access for All Americans

dreamstime_s_15167878From 2000 to 2010, more and more Americans reported being unable to access needed dental care, but starting in 2011 that trend reversed. To get a more complete picture of how things have changed, the ADA looked at the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2004 and 2012, which had matching questions that allowed close comparisons. The data showed that in 2004, 18.2% of people reported being unable to get needed dental care in the last year, compared to 14.6% in 2012.

Not only did the overall access to the dentist improve, but access improved in every age group. In the 2-20 year-old segment, the proportion unable to get dental care fell from 10.3% to 6.3%. The proportion fell from 23.4% to 19.7% for 21-64-year-old adults and 9.1% to 7.4% for adults over the age of 65. The declines in children and non-elderly adults were found to be statistically significant.

Cost the Major Barrier, But Declining

Although people are gaining access to dental care, there are still barriers keeping people from getting the care they need. Cost remains the major barrier, but, as the ADA pointed out, that barrier is declining, making it easier for people to get needed dental care. In 2004, 13.9% of Americans reported that cost kept them from getting the dental care they needed. In 2012, that proportion had fallen to only 12.9%. Even supply-side problems–a relatively minor barrier to dental care, such as not being able to find a dentist nearby or having a dentist’s office that was open at the time they needed care–declined from 1.7% in 2004 to 0.7% in 2012.

Progress Behind, Challenges Ahead

Although access to dental care is improving, the ADA report warns of continued challenges. Of course, the fact that nearly 15% of Americans who needed dental care in the last year couldn’t get it is disheartening, and shows we still need to continue improving. The ADA report also notes that as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to remove cost barriers and more people seek dentists, supply-side barriers may become increasingly significant.

We’ll tackle that problem when we come to it though, and be happy that so many Americans are benefitting from increased access to dental care that can improve overall health and quality of life.

If you are looking for dental care in Denver, please call 303-759-5652 for an appointment at Park Meadows Dental Care today.