As autumn brings the chocolates, lollipops, and other sweets that come with Halloween, this is an excellent time to remember your teeth! October is National Dental Hygiene Month, which highlights the importance of keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums clean and healthy to prevent tooth decay and disease. We have issued several reports related to dental health and children’s access to dental services.
Excerpted from GAO-08-1121
Dental disease is fairly common in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 24 percent of adults and 16 percent of children have untreated dental cavities (the percentage is higher among lower income kids).
In addition to brushing and flossing, regular visits to dental providers are recommended to prevent tooth decay. However, in 2010, only about 40 percent of people reported a dental visit in the past year. That percentage has remained fairly consistent since at least 1996.
Our reports on these and other dental issues have:
- provided information on dental visits and coverage, as well as variation in dental fees across the country;
- evaluated federal efforts to improve children’s access to dental services;
- recommended improvements for monitoring state Medicaid dental services for children, and increasing children’s access to Medicaid dental services; and
- identified the extent of dental disease in children.