One in three skip the dentistNews added by Benefits Pro on April 29, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Kathryn Mayer

We all know we’re supposed to see the dentist a couple times a year. But that isn’t stopping some from avoiding him altogether.

New Gallup data reveals one in three Americans haven’t visited a dentist in the past year, despite recommendations to do so.

The two-thirds of Americans — 64.7 percent, to be exact — who said they did visit the dentist at least once in 2013 is essentially unchanged from the rate found in 2008.

Among other notable findings from Gallup, income — often tied to having coverage for dental care — has a lot to do with it.

Gallup researchers said Americans who earn $120,000 or more annually in household income are roughly twice as likely as those who earn less than $12,000 to say they visited the dentist in the past 12 months, 82.3 percent vs. 42.7 percent, respectively.

“Dental visit rates have held steady since 2008 for top earners, while they have declined for all other groups, particularly for low- and middle-income households with incomes between $24,000 and $60,000 per year,” Gallup said.

Annual dental visits also are least common in the southern states and highest in the East, the polling firm found.

Also making an impact on dental visits is gender and ethnicity.

Women are more likely to visit the dentist annually (68 percent compared to 62 percent of men), while 55 percent of both blacks and Hispanics reported visiting the dentist. By contrast, 70 percent of white and Asian Americans reported visiting the dentist in 2013.

Dentists say oral care is vital to overall health, and major diseases — including diabetes — can be detected from a routine dental visit. Research also indicates poor oral health may be linked to both heart disease and stroke.

The findings are based on interviews with 178,072 American adults conducted during 2013 and with 354,645 adults conducted in 2008 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

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