New public opinion research released today 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,” said Jason Daughn, chief public affairs officer at Delta Dental Plans Association. “At Delta Dental, we understand that oral health is critical to overall health. That’s why, as part of our focus on whole-person health, we’re investing in innovative research, products, technology, and partnerships to help ensure equitable access to affordable oral health care for all.”
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. Seventy-six percent of adults — including a majority of HR professionals surveyed — said Medicaid should require states to include dental care.
“It is obvious from this survey that Americans want better access to dental coverage, regardless of their current situation, and they know that oral health is an important priority for their overall health,” said Vivian Vasallo, executive director of the Delta Dental Institute. “Our mission is to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need, and we will continue to advance research, policies, and community programs that support this work.”
ABOUT THE SURVEY
The survey was administered by FGS Global from 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.
About the Delta Dental Institute
The Delta Dental Institute is dedicated to advancing oral health for all Americans in partnership with Delta Dental companies and dedicated partners across the country. With expertise rooted in Delta Dental’s rich history of oral health leadership, we engage in and support oral health research, community outreach, and advocacy, striving to ensure that everyone understands the importance of oral health to overall health and has access to the care they need.
Visit deltadentalinstitute.com for more information.