Why Do Adults Skip Dental Care?

Why Do Adults Skip Dental Care?

Why Do Adults Skip Dental Care?

It’s no secret that dental care is important. Even so, each year many adults choose to forgo a visit to the dentist. But why are adults who are educated on the importance of dental health still choosing to skip the dentist? Let’s dig deeper into why people decide they don’t need to go to the dentist within the next year.

ADA Studies

Recently the Health Policy Institute, part of the American Dental Association (ADA), completed a report on why adults choose to forgo dental care. The results found several reasons adults skip dental care including  cost, low perceived need, lack of time, difficulty traveling, anxiety and Medicaid coverage issues. Adults also receive less dental insurance benefits through work than they did in the early 2000s the report states. These factors are certainly easy to comprehend, but they are not the end of the story. Now that we have the data, let’s look at some ways to mitigate each concern listed in the ADA report.

Low Perceived Need

The advancement of over the counter dental care items has certainly changed how people view dental care. Today products are marketed as “complete care” and “absolutely white” give the idea that the OTC product is all you need for proper oral care. To some degree they are right, fluoride toothpaste is better than it has ever been, and its use is more wide spread than ever. This is indeed cutting down on cavities. However, fluoride products alone cannot provide complete dental care. You need to visit the dentist for a complete cleaning that removes tartar buildup and prevents more serious conditions like gum disease. In addition, only your dentist can diagnose and treat more severe problems before they get out of control.

Lack Of Time / Difficulty Traveling

It seems like there is never enough time in the day for normal life, let alone a dental cleaning! But like other important items, scheduling the appointment well in advance can help lessen that feeling that you “don’t have time for this.” Select the easiest time to get into the office for you, and try to work ahead beforehand so you can devote this time to dental care alone. That doesn’t mean you can’t multi-task. There are plenty of patients who send emails while they wait for the dentist. If scheduling is particularly tricky for you, contact the desk staff and they’ll work hard to accommodate you into the office hours as best as possible. This said, a checkup and cleaning is must faster than you might expect, so keep that in mind as well.
As for travel issues, this can certainly be difficult, especially for some age groups. If you’re elderly, check out volunteer groups that help with issues like this. Ride share and public transit options can provide affordable transport in many cities as well. When in doubt, contact the front desk staff and tell them you’re having transportation problems. They might just have a solution for you!


Dental anxiety is a difficult hurdle for some, and it’s not one that you can treat by saying “suck it up and go.” The best way to treat dental anxiety is to remove the “big bad wolf” so to speak and show the patient there is nothing to fear. If you’re battling dental anxiety, there are a few ways you can lessen the stress around treatment. First, ask for a short meet and greet appointment with your dentist. This way you can go to the office, meet the dentist and staff, and see if you feel comfortable without having to get in the chair that day. Of course, you will have to make an extra trip for this. Also, it can be of great help to bring a friend or family member who stays with you during treatment. This way you can talk with them and not feel alone throughout the visit. Dental anxiety is tough, but anyone can beat it with a plan!


Cost is a big factor for many patients, and it might be why adults skip dental care more than any other reason. Perhaps the best way to approach this problem is to not fear the worst. A dental cleaning and check up is easy and affordable, and you don’t have to make any commitments past that one appointment. Sometimes there is this fear that you’ll show up for an appointment, have a bad check up, and be on the hook for substantial procedures. Your teeth might be healthy and you’ll need no further care past that check up for six months! If you do need more treatment, you can devise a plan from there. The dental staff is trained in this area as well and can help you evaluate your options. So in the case of cost fears, it is definitely one step at a time.

Final Thoughts - Why Do Adults Skip Dental Care

As the ADA study shows, there are several common reasons why adults skip dental care. As first consideration, these can all be big hurdles, but when you dive deeper into each issue, there is an easy and sensible solution for each problem. The best place to start is with open communication. Choose a family dentist you can openly communicate with about your concerns. Grace & Leedy Family Dentist is well-versed in kind, compassionate care that addresses the concerns listed above. Contact us today to see why providing quality care is our number one goal.

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