'How long since you last saw a dentist?'
May 07, 2013
By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff
Hyattsville, Md.—Eight percent of the adult U.S. population in 2011 had lost all of their natural teeth, according to the most recent National Health Interview Survey. One percent of adults had never visited a dentist or other dental health professional.
These are among selected statistical measures of adult general and oral health status and utilization from a multipurpose survey conducted annually for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Selected dental measures include absence of natural teeth and length of time since last visit with a dentist or other dental health professional.
U.S. Census Bureau interviewers asked adults:
“Have you lost all your upper and lower natural (permanent) teeth?”
“About how long has it been since you last saw a dentist?” Respondents were instructed to include all types of dentists such as orthodontists, oral surgeons and all other dental specialists as well as dental hygienists.
Absence of all natural teeth was inversely associated with education, the report said. Sixteen percent of adults with less than a high school diploma had lost all of their natural teeth compared with 4 percent of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher.
Among adults under age 65, those covered by Medicaid were more likely to have absence of all natural teeth compared with those with private or no insurance. Among adults aged 65 and over, those covered by Medicaid and Medicare were more likely to have absence of all natural teeth than those with only Medicare health care coverage or private insurance. Adults not living in a metropolitan statistical area were more likely to have absence of all natural teeth compared with those living in a large MSA.
Overall, 44 percent of adults last visited a dentist or other dental health professional within the previous six months; 17 percent more than six months ago but not more than one year ago; 13 percent more than one year ago but not more than two years ago; 12 percent more than two years ago but not more than five years ago, and 13 percent last visited a dentist or other dental health professional more than five years ago.
Forty six percent of women last visited a dentist or other dental health professional within the previous six months compared with 42 percent of men. When results are considered by single race and ethnicity, non-Hispanic white adults were more likely to have visited a dentist or other dental health professional within the past six months (49 percent) than either non-Hispanic black adults (33 percent) or Hispanic adults (29 percent). Three percent of Hispanic adults had never visited a dentist compared with 1 percent of non-Hispanic black adults and less than 1 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.
In 2011, 61 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized adult population aged 18 and over had excellent or very good health, according to the report. Eleven percent of adults had been told by a doctor or other health professional that they had heart disease, 24 percent had been told on two or more visits that they had hypertension, 9 percent had been told that they had diabetes and 22 percent had been told that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia. Nineteen percent of adults were current smokers. Based on estimates of body mass index, 34 percent of adults were overweight and 28 percent were obese.
Data were collected for 33,014 adults and analyzed by the National Center for Health Statistics. Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults; National Health Interview Survey, 2011, is available at the CDC website.