We’re Still #45! The State of Our State’s Oral Health

by | Feb 18, 2021 | Oral Health

As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sure enough, our weather this week certainly has been different, and Texas still ranks toward the very bottom of the US when it comes to oral health.

Texas flag on wood Oh, a few things have changed since we last looked at WalletHub’s rankings back in 2017. Minnesota has dropped from #1 to #4, with Wisconsin now taking the top spot. And while the few states trailing Texas remain mostly the same, placements have shuffled slightly.

Our state also took a step backwards on dental habits and care, dropping three spots to #30 overall.

And we came in dead last for adults with low life satisfaction due to their oral health. Texas had the highest percentage of adults reporting that problem – even as our state was tied for having the lowest dental treatment costs overall.

Suffice it to say – once again – there’s plenty of room for improvement…and every good reason to reiterate what we wrote before. In fact, it might be even more important in the age of COVID. The CDC, for one, has stressed that oral health needs to be understood as a critical component of overall health and well-being.

Here’s what we said in that earlier post…

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…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.

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