Oral Health America (OHA) has a long and respected tradition of promoting and advocating oral health throughout the country. Their mission is best summarized in the words of their CEO, Beth Truett, “All Americans, regardless of income level, age or where they live, deserve to have a healthy mouth. We have a societal responsibility to educate the public and our legislators about why oral health is important for overall health, and to ensure that all Americans, particularly those most vulnerable to disease, are able to obtain the care they need…By creating this year’s Fall for Smiles campaign, we can make a difference in how oral health is perceived and treated in the United States.”
The OHA’s directive is particularly important in light of a July survey that brought to light some shocking disparities regarding oral healthcare in America. The online survey, which was conducted through a Harris Poll and questioned some 2,088 U.S. adults, found that those Americans with an annual household income of under $50,000 were more likely to delay or miss dental visits. Many of these Americans live in Urban environments, are young, or part of the student population.
A shocking 74 percent of those surveyed stated that they choose to forgo dental visits for financial reasons.
While it is encouraging that some 92% of those surveyed professed to daily brushing, lower income Americans, students, and those with a lower formal education level skipped other habits central to oral health such as flossing (43% compared to 58% overall), healthy eating (56% compared to 62% overall). Shockingly, 25% of this group also admitted to tobacco use.
In light of these findings, the OHA is working to bring oral health awareness to all Americans. The “Fall for Smiles” campaign will work to promote oral hygiene through the promotion of daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular visits to oral health professionals.
The OHA will be working closely with the Dental Trade Alliance and their “Oral Health Can’t Wait” Initiative. Our Nation’s capital will play host to this alliance’s special program, “Communities Matter: Does Your Neighborhood Determine Oral Health?” Professionals from throughout the healthcare world will come together to discuss issues most pertinent to oral health among our lower income communities. This issue will also be raised before representatives of our government, as OHA members and their supporters are scheduled to meet with members of Congress. For more information regarding this important event, please visit the Fall for Smiles webpage.