RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new survey from the Virginia Dental Association raises concerns about the link between poor oral health care and other serious medical issues.
Out of 625 Virginians questioned, nearly a third had not seen a dentist in the past year. Ten percent say they had not visited a dentist in 10 or more years.
In Richmond, 16 percent of individuals who took part in the poll had not seen a dentist in three or more years.
“Regular visits to the dentist not only help detect issues with your oral health care, but they also can help prevent compounding other health issues,” explains Dr. Benita Miller, President of the Virginia Dental Association. “As a state, Virginia actually ranks high in terms of adults seeing a dentist each year, but the concern is for those who aren’t seeing the dentist because we know that poor oral health can lead to much more serious health complications.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation ranks Virginia 13th in the nation for dental visits. The highest number is in Northern Virginia followed by Metro Richmond. However, only half of residents surveyed in Roanoke/Southwest Virginia reported going to the dentist in the past year.
Studies have found poor oral health and untreated periodontal disease can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Periodontal disease and inflamed gums can also make it harder for diabetics to control their blood-sugar levels.
“People avoid going to the dentist for a variety of reasons,” Dr. Miller says. “Whatever the reason, it is important to recognize that your dental health can impact overall health issues. The critical piece is helping people understand the value of a healthy mouth. Getting back on the right track starts by making that first appointment and communicating your worries or concerns to your dentist so that together you can develop a more consistent plan for ongoing regular care.”Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com