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One in 6 go 5 years without dentist

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The Kentucky Enquirer

Six of 10 Kentucky adults (or 64 percent) reported visiting a dentist or dental clinic within the past year, new data from the 2013 Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows.
But the poll also showed that “almost 1 in 6 had not visited the dentist or a dental clinic in five or more years,” said Francie Wolgin, senior program officer for protecting the health care safety net at Norwood, Ohio-based Interact for Health.
The results for Northern Kentucky on both questions were basically the same as the statewide poll.
The findings were troubling because “oral health is critical to overall health,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Louisville-based Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, whose agency helped pay for the poll along with Interact for Health.
The poll results released Thursday “remind us of the ways economics and geography impact Kentuckians’ oral health and access to care,” Zepeda said in a release.
For example, about 4 in 10 uninsured Kentucky adults (43 percent) reported a dental visit in the past year, compared with 7 in 10 insured adults (70 percent).
There were also geographic differences. Half of adults living in Appalachian counties (51 percent) had seen a dentist in the past year, compared with 7 in 10 adults (71 percent) living in non-Appalachian counties. Only half of respondents (50 percent) who rated their own health as fair or poor had visited the dentist or dental clinic within the past year. More than 7 in 10 adults (73 percent) who rated their health as excellent or very good had been to a dentist in the past year.
In addition, the poll respondents were asked, “Has your physician ever asked you about your oral or dental health?”
One in 4 Kentucky adults (24 percent) said yes. Responses were similar across all demographic groups except age. Younger adults were less likely than older adults to have had a physician ask about their oral health.
Kentucky adults whose physicians asked about their oral health were more likely to have visited a dentist or dental clinic in the past year (73 percent) than those who were not asked about their oral health (62 percent).
The poll was conducted Oct. 25 through Nov. 26 by the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research.
A random sample of 1,551 adults from throughout Kentucky were interviewed by telephone. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
Editor’s note: Reprinted with permission through the Kentucky Press News Service.