Tuesday, July 20, 2021

CDC: Three of seven rural adults went without dental care before pandemic, especially men, non-whites and the poor

Dental visits in 2019 by adults aged 18 to 64 (CDC chart)
Dentists were forced to shut down during the early months of the pandemic, leaving Americans unable to get appointments for routine dental care. But even before the pandemic, nearly half of rural adults went without it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2019, the CDC says, 42.4 percent of people aged 18 to 64 in nonmetropolitan counties did not visit a dentist that year, compared to 33.3% of metropolitan residents. Rural residents who did see a dentist were more likely to go there for more serious treatment, such as oral surgery. 

Some groups were less likely to visit the dentist in both rural and urban populations, though the disparities were wider in rural areas: men, non-white residents, and the poor. Rural disparities were likely wider because of transportation problems, dentist shortages, and lack of overall health care. 

The report matters because dental care is correlated with overall physical health, and regular preventative care can keep small dental problems such as cavities from becoming large, expensive problems that threaten health and require more invasive treatment.

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