Dental Tribune USA

Research shows Americans with dental benefits have better overall health

By NADP press release
April 13, 2009

DALLAS, TX/NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA: Individuals with dental benefits are more likely to go to the dentist, take their children to the dentist, receive restorative care and experience greater overall health, according to a recent report by the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP).

The report, The Haves and the Have‐Nots: Consumers with and without Dental Benefits, paints a multi‐dimensional portrait of dental care, overall health and lifestyles of two groups of Americans — those with dental coverage and those without. The report further examines the relationship of age, education and income of these two groups.

“There are 2.8 times the number of Americans without dental coverage as those that are medically uninsured. This report clearly shows that access to dental care is improved with dental benefits and that dental care improves overall health. Given increasing connections between oral and overall health, dental coverage must be part of health reform. The choice for our health care system is to pay for dental care now or pay more for medical treatment of dental complications later,” said Evelyn F. Ireland, executive director of NADP.

The 173 million Americans with dental benefits report lower incidences of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. This 57 per cent of the population practices healthier lifestyle habits including brushing and flossing, eating a healthy diet and visiting the dentist regularly. They are also more likely to receive restorative treatments.

Over 143 million Americans have no dental coverage — 2.8 times the medically uninsured. These individuals are more likely to have extractions and dentures and less likely to have restorative care or receive treatment for periodontal disease.

Furthermore, those without dental benefits report higher incidences of illness. They are 67 per cent more likely to have heart disease, 50 per cent more likely to have osteoporosis, and 29 per cent more likely to have diabetes. They also visit the dentist less frequently — missing the opportunity for prevention and early treatment. Many of them are among the 7.7 million Americans annually that end up in emergency rooms for dental treatment, accounting for one in 14 emergency room visits at an annual cost of US$2.3 billion.

Demographic findings for the covered versus the uncovered are as follows:

Covered Individuals:
• 69 per cent earn between US$40,000 and US$100,000 annually.
• 28 per cent have college degrees.
• 87 per cent are 64 years old or younger.

Individuals without Coverage:
• Only 35 per cent are employed full-time.
• 52 per cent earn US$39,000 or less annually
• 29 per cent are 65 years or older.
• 22 per cent have a high school education or less.

The National Association of Dental Plans is a non‐profit trade association representing the entire dental benefits industry, including dental HMOs, dental PPOs, discount dental plans and dental indemnity products. NADP’s member dental plans provide dental benefits to more than 80 per cent of the 173 million Americans with dental benefits. NADP’s members include major commercial carriers, regional and single‐state companies. For more information, visit

(Edited by Fred Michmershuizen, DTI)


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