A Duke University phone survey, administered between 1999 and 2008, found that the surveyed 650,000 respondents had an overall increase in preventive dental care visits. Middle-age and elderly people were asked, in simple question and answer format, about their last dental cleaning. The University discovered that 23 to 43 percent of those surveyed did not seek preventive care.

Several factors contribute to this gap in dental care visits. Smokers and uninsured people, regardless of racial background, were more prone to avoid preventive dental care. When it came to racial groups, 57 percent of African-Americans, and 62 percent of both Native Americans and Hispanics, actively visited the dentist in 2008. lagging significantly behind the Caucasian and Asian American Groups.

When divided by gender, more women than men received preventive dental care. In fact, women are 33 percent more likely than men to visit the dentist for basic care.

Duke University’s study is available for viewing in Frontiers in Public Health’s journal.

by Jennifer Schau DDS

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