U.S. patients are more concerned about their oral health than any other health issue, and the problem is compounded by patients' limited access to dental care, according to a September 23 research report by DentaQuest.
In a nationwide survey, the company polled more than 2,300 patients, dentists, physicians, and administrators in the U.S. It found that more than half of all patients were concerned about their oral health, with 70% claiming that oral healthcare is too expensive and 32% saying that it is scary. What's more, roughly 80% of physicians predicted that oral health in the U.S. will either stay the same or get worse in the coming years.
The projected decline in oral health likely stems from barriers to adequate dental care such as its high cost and lack of insurance, according to the report. As of now, an estimated 74 million Americans do not have access to oral healthcare.
The vast majority of dentists, physicians, and employers agreed that increased collaboration among dental and medical providers would likely improve patient care. To that end, dentists have promoted more widespread use of school-based dentistry, collaborative care teams, and wraparound services such as transportation or child care.
Looking ahead, employers and patients supported the development of dental insurance models that billed clients based on the effect of a procedure on overall health, rather than the total cost of the procedure. Approximately 51% of employers said their organizations would consider implementing a value-based care model for dental coverage.