Too many Americans lack access to dental care, especially in underserved areas. Forty-four percent of people below the federal poverty level have untreated dental decay compared to just 9.5 percent of those above 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
The consequences of untreated decay and periodontal disease – slowly destructive gum infections – include increased risk of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and pre-term delivery among pregnant women. Furthermore, poor oral health can change how people eat, work and live their lives. Oral health reflects people’s social determinants of health and can reinforce poverty.