Report: Fewer Kentuckians delaying dental care due to cost

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Dental Care
Graphic Courtesy: MGN Online

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ)- Fewer Kentuckians are delaying or skipping dental care because of the cost, but only about six in 10 Kentucky adults saw a dentist in the past year, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll report.

In 2018, 26 percent of Kentucky adults said they’d delayed or skipped care, down from 37 percent in 2012 and 43 percent in 2009. Still, 41 percent said they hadn’t visited a dentist in the prior year, about the same as in 2012.

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KHIP is an annual telephone poll of Kentucky adults about health and health-policy issues; it is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oral health problems such as tooth and gum disease as well as oral cancer, are linked to other chronic conditions including diabetes and heart disease. In turn, persons with arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, emphysema or hepatitis C are at greater risk for oral health problems and need regular visits to their dental providers.

The KHIP report found the proportion of Kentucky adults who have visited a dentist in the prior year (59 percent) was about the same as in 2012 (61 percent), slightly lower than the national average of 66 percent. In addition, the report found, 60 percent of Kentucky adults have dental insurance, up from 48 percent in 2012.

Kentucky adults with higher household incomes were more likely to have dental insurance than those living on lower incomes. Moreover, those with dental insurance were more likely to have had dental care in the prior year. In 2018, 41 percent of those with household incomes at or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines had dental insurance, while 73 percent of those with household incomes greater than 200 percent of the poverty guidelines had coverage. Of those who had visited a dentist in 2018, 73 percent had dental insurance.

A copy of the KHIP report is available here.