Important Facts for Routine Dental Health Care Visits
DefinitionPercentage of adults ages 18 years and older who reported a dental visit in the past year.
NumeratorNumber of survey respondents who reported a dental visit within the past 12 months.
DenominatorTotal number of survey respondents excluding those with missing, "Don't know/Not sure" or "Refused" responses.
Data Interpretation IssuesQuestion Text: "How long has it been since you last visited a dentist or a dental clinic for any reason? Interviewer Instruction: Include visits to dental specialists, such as orthodontists." Beginning in 2011, BRFSS data include both landline and cell phone respondent data along with a new weighting methodology called iterative proportional fitting, or raking. This methodology utilizes additional demographic information (such as education, race, and marital status) in the weighting procedure. Both of these methodology changes were implemented to account for an increased number of U.S. households without landline phones and an under-representation of certain demographic groups that were not well-represented in the sample. More details about these changes can be found at: [https://ibis.health.utah.gov/pdf/opha/resource/brfss/RakingImpact2011.pdf]. As with all surveys, some error results from nonresponse (e.g., refusal to participate in the survey or to answer specific questions) and measurement (e.g., social desirability or recall bias). Error was minimized by use of strict calling protocols (up to 15 calls were made to reach each household), good questionnaire design, standardization of interviewer behavior, interviewer training, and frequent, on-site interviewer monitoring and supervision.
Why Is This Important?Regular dental visits are important in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of oral and craniofacial diseases and conditions for all ages. Adults need regular professional care to avoid tooth loss, the need for complex restorative treatment, and even systemic health problems. Even people without teeth need to be monitored regularly for oral health which may be affected by systemic conditions, medications, prosthetic devices, and exposure to tobacco. Infrequent use of dental services has been associated with poor oral health among adults.
Healthy People Objective OH-7:Increase the proportion of children, adolescents, and adults who used the oral health care system in the past year
U.S. Target: 49.0 percent