Need for Dental Care

In the United States today tooth decay is the most common – and most preventable – health condition for children ages five to 17.   Nationwide, 59 percent of children experience dental caries, or cavities, and the condition follows them into adulthood.

It was estimated that in Georgia 27 percent of adults between 35 and 44 years old, and 30 percent of adults over 65 had untreated tooth decay, according to a report issued by the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University in 2011.   This amounts to hundreds of thousands of people with cavities that were never filled, and over time expanded through the teeth.

The Need is Great; Access is Challenging

bad-teeth-older-manGum disease is also prevalent in people who do not brush regularly or floss, and can lead to the loss of teeth.   In 2008 in Georgia, 23 percent of adults 65 and older reported losing all of their teeth and 49 percent reported losing six or more teeth.

Oral health is a critical component of one’s overall health. It affects the health of the rest of the body, especially for those with existing health conditions. Oral conditions and dental disease not only lead to pain and difficulty eating, they affect self-esteem, relationships, employment, and overall quality of life.

One in four Georgians did not receive dental services in the last year, according to the 2008 Georgia Population Survey. The main reason given for not receiving dental care is the cost. 

Access to Dental Services

bad-teeth-womanAccess to a dental care ‘safety-net’ for low-income populations in Georgia is fragile, and in some areas, is non-existent. Dental care for the indigent, the working poor, the developmentally and mentally disabled, and the elderly is more than challenging to obtain.

The number of adults and children in Georgia who are in need of oral health care services is staggering.  Yet literally thousands of our neighbors in metro-Atlanta and North Georgia who are low-income, disadvantaged, and uninsured – and others who are mentally or physically disabled – are unable to access or afford professional dental care.

mouth-openThe bottom line: people with low incomes and less education have less access to dental insurance, and therefore, less access to dental care.   And because there is a direct link between education and lifetime income, they are also much less likely to afford the cost of dental care out-of-pocket when insurance is not available.

This vulnerable population of Georgians relies on charitable clinics to receive dental care services that only licensed, trained dentists can provide. The Greater Atlanta Dental Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that dental care is available, and the community clinics are delivering the highest quality care possible.