The Prevalence of Dental Problems in Adults

About 33 percent of American adults have some type of tooth decay, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 25 percent of adults have experienced facial pain in the last month and do not know the cause of it.

Another sobering statistic is that approximately 14 percent of people between the ages of 35 and 44 have untreated gum disease. About 25 percent of people over the age of 65 have periodontal disease, which can cause tooth loss. The risk of oral health problems including cancer increases with age or unhealthy habits such as constant snacking, heavy alcohol consumption, or any amount of regular tobacco usage. People who still have their wisdom teeth are more susceptible to serious oral health problems such as gum disease. Anyone whose parent(s) had gum disease is 12 times more likely to develop oral health problems than someone without that kind of family history.

Oral cancer is one of the most fatal types of cancer as only about half of the people diagnosed with it are still alive five years later. An estimated 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year and at least 8,000 people die of oral cancer annually. People who are not Caucasian, especially African American males, have the highest mortality rates from oral cancer. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy may slow or even end the cancer but are usually physically disfiguring and come with a significant risk of unpleasant side effects. Also, these treatments are expensive. Thus, it is often difficult for people with little to no health insurance to get the proper diagnosis and treatment in a timely manner.