Status > Health Indicators
Health and Dental Care
Oral health conditions can cause chronic pain
of the mouth and face, and can impair the ability to eat
normally. Regular dental care is particularly important
for women because there is some evidence of an association
between periodontal disease and certain birth outcomes,
such as increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight.1 To prevent caries (cavities) and periodontal (gum) disease,
the American Dental Association recommends maintaining a
healthy diet with plenty of water, and limiting eating and
drinking between meals.2 Other important preventive
measures include daily brushing and flossing, regular dental
cleanings to remove plaque, and checkups to examine for
caries or other potential problems.3
In 2003–04, women were less likely than
men to have untreated dental caries (23.9 versus 30.5 percent).
Among women, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women were
most likely to have untreated caries. Sealants—a hard, clear
substance applied to the surfaces of teeth— may help to
prevent caries, but only 21.2 percent of women had sealants.
Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women were the least likely
to have sealants (7.7 and 11.4 percent, respectively).
Having health insurance—particularly dental
insurance—influences how often women see a
dentist. In 2003–04, 71.2 percent of women who
had health insurance with a dental component
saw a dentist in the past year, compared to
58.6 percent of women with health insurance but
no dental component, and 38.6 percent of
women with no health insurance. Uninsured
women were the most likely to have not seen a
dentist in more than 5 years (24.6 percent).