Texas does not come out looking good in the latest rankings on dental health.
- The lowest percentage of kids with excellent/very good teeth (#47).
- The highest percentage of adults who visited a dentist in the past year (#46).
- Highest percentage of adults with low life satisfaction due to an oral condition (#51 – dead last).
Overall, Texas ranked 45th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Only Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana, Alabama, and West Virginia ranked worse. While our “Dental Habits and Care” rank is a middle-of-the-road 27, our state’s “Oral Health” rank is a miserable 47.
Suffice it to say, there’s room for improvement. (And in case you’re wondering, Minnesota was #1 in overall dental health.)
As we’ve noted before, good oral health habits start in youth. The foundation of healthy eating, proper hygiene, and regular dental visits should be laid early. Taking an active, preventive approach to your child’s oral health can mean fewer (and cheaper) dental visits for their lifetime.
Kids who grow up with dental neglect as the norm often become those adults who shun the dentist.
In some cases, it’s because it’s just not something they do, but in other cases, anxiety may be at the root of it. Sometimes the fear is of finding out about problems caused by years of neglect and the cost of addressing them. Sometimes, a bad dental experience can grow into dental fear. Others struggle with their response to particular sounds, smells, or sensations experienced during treatment.
Whatever the cause, there are ways to get the better of that fear – from herbal remedies (e.g., valerian root) to listening to relaxing music through headphones to sedation dentistry.
The most important thing? Let your dentist, hygienists, and assistants know about your apprehensions. We want to do everything we can to help make their visits as relaxing, gentle, and pleasant as possible.
For good oral health is essential to your quality of life. Low life satisfaction can result when oral problems make it hard to eat and chew, for instance, or embarrassment over the state of your teeth. According to the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute, “More than one out of three low-income adults say they avoid smiling and 17 percent report difficulty doing usual activities because of the condition of their mouth and teeth.”
Indeed, oral health is, as the title of a study last year in the Journals of Gerontology put it, a “neglected aspect of subjective well-being.”
A deterioration in oral health and oral health–related quality of life increases the risk of depressive symptoms among older adults and highlights the importance of oral health as a determinant of subjective well-being in later life.
In the end, it’s important to remember that dental healthcare doesn’t need to be scary and can be a solution to increasing overall life satisfaction. Talk with your dentist about options that may be available to help you get through any concerns you and your family have.
While it might cause temporary stress and anxiety, remember that regular visits for cleaning and check-ups, partnered with healthy lifestyle and dental habits like avoiding processed foods and brushing and flossing daily, can save you a lot of stress in the long run – both emotional and financial.
Image by AnonMoos based on image by Darwinek