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Providing Dental Insurance Does Not Guarantee That People Will Seek Care

Many people do not realize how our oral health and overall health are linked, and that preventative dental care as well as repair of dental problems is vital to maintaining quality of life. The following article details that education about the importance of dental care will spur people to seek care as opposed to insurance alone. Thanks for visiting Texarkana Endodontics. Enjoy reading.

Providing people with dental insurance does not necessarily mean that they will use it and seek dental care, according to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, published online in the American Journal of Public Health. The research suggests that outreach and education are needed to ensure that people value their dental health and use their coverage to seek appropriate dental care. The study has particular value in this era of health reform, and the researchers hope that policymakers will use the findings in designing future programs and initiatives, according to first author Richard J. Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD, professor and chief of Dental Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

“You can’t just hand people coverage and say, ‘there, that’s better,’” says Dr. Manski. “You need to offer some inducements, some promotional campaign to change people’s attitudes and beliefs. We hope this starts the process of a new way of thinking about the problem.”

The researchers examined data from the Health and Retirement Study of 2008, looking at older Americans who had dental coverage and those who didn’t, and examining who was using dental care. They also looked at personal characteristics such as race, gender, marital status, age, health status and more.

The scientists found that providing dental coverage to uninsured older Americans who do not tend to use dental care will not necessarily mean that, once insured, those people will seek dental care. Rather, if policymakers want people to use dental coverage and seek care, they have to go a step further than just providing insurance. While many of the factors that keep people from seeking care — such as age and gender — can’t be changed, other factors could be influenced by outreach.

These factors include knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, tastes, health status, income and more. Education and marketing outreach about the importance of dental care to overall health could alter these factors and make people who get coverage more likely to use it. Improving the economy and the unemployment rate could also affect the problem for the better. The number of providers available in the market could also affect the likelihood that patients will use their dental coverage, supporting the development of programs encouraging people to enter the field of dentistry.

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Topics: Oral Health