National Survey Shows Children Without Dental Coverage Are Twice as Likely to Experience Toothaches or Other Major Dental Problems

A March 2017 Public Policy Polling national survey of U.S. parents, commissioned by the Children’s Dental Health Project and sponsored by the Benevis Foundation, found that children without dental insurance were twice as likely as insured children to have had a recent toothache or other dental problem that affected their ability to eat, sleep or concentrate in school.

Other key poll findings include:

  • Within the past year, 13% of parents said their children were “in need of dental care but not able to receive it.” However, parents of uninsured kids were nearly three times as likely (26%) to have children who went without care than parents whose kids were insured (9%).
  • Affordability is the major reason parents reported for why their children needed but did not obtain dental care. In fact, parents were roughly seven times more likely to cite cost (57%) as they were to cite “difficulty getting to the dentist.”
  • Dental access issues were more pronounced among low-income and minority respondents. Parents with annual incomes below $30,000 were twice as likely (28%) and Hispanic parents were nearly three times more likely (34%) to report their children were in need of dental care but unable to receive it. Hispanic (35%), Asian (11%) and African-American parents (10%) were also more likely than White parents (2%) to report that their children had visited an emergency room for a dental problem in the past year.
  • Pediatricians and other medical staff can play meaningful roles in children’s oral health. In the survey, only 35% of parents said their children’s doctor talked or asked about dental issues during the last few medical appointments.
  • Parents were asked whether the debate in Washington D.C. about the future of health coverage made them feel more secure, feel less secure or feel no different. Just under half (45%) said they felt less secure, 27% felt more secure, 23% felt no different and 4% were unsure.

Additional Reading:

Press Release
Poll Results