In this brief Q & A session, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, a cosmetic dentist from Edmond, Oklahoma, speaks about dental health stats and ways to prevent one common problem: cavities.
Q: How widespread is the problem of tooth decay?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: It’s estimated that greater than 20% of Americans have untreated cavities. And while income may play a role in a lack of dental care, age seems the biggest factor, with 25% of those between the ages of 20-44 being affected.
Q: Do federal health insurance programs offer dental?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Children from low income families are covered under different health plans in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. However, though it’s considered an essential service, parents are not required to purchase dental insurance for their children. Adults are a different story. Insurance companies don’t even have to offer dental as it’s not an essential service for those over 18.
Q: What percentage of American adults have had dental work performed?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Most American adults – approximately 75% – have seen their dentist for some work. Twenty-seven percent of children will have a dental sealant at some point.
Q: Does going to the dentist really help prevent cavities?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: We can’t stop people from doing things that will cause cavities. What we can do, however, is help monitor our patients’ overall oral health and offer advice on how to care for their teeth. Seeing a dentist twice a year, as recommended, will ensure that any potential issues are identified before they become major problems.
Q: Is it possible to avoid cavities altogether?
Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Some people are predisposed to cavities because of health conditions that have weakened the tooth enamel. But, for those who are overall healthy, it is possible – it just takes a little work. There’s a reason that we endorse brushing daily, using dental floss, and finishing with an antiseptic mouth rinse. These simple acts can prevent most cases of dental decay.