Hate visiting the dentist? You're not alone. Many individuals report feelings of fear and anxiety just thinking about visiting the dentist. Others actually want to go to the dentist but can't because of a lack of access or affordability.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 percent of American adults have gone at least a year without a dental checkup. While skipping the dentist may save you money in the short term, in the long run, it's not a great idea.

'What many people don't realize is the cost of an average checkup is significantly less than dental treatment for severe problems that may develop as a result of skipping cleanings,' said Dr. Richard Armstrong of Legends Dental in Waco, Texas. 'It is also more costly to your overall health in terms of risk potential for more serious conditions.'

When oral health conditions such as gum disease or tooth decay go untreated, they can cause serious health conditions such as the potentially fatal endocarditis, or inflammation of the lining of the heart muscle.

Other consequences of these conditions, when left untreated, include a greater risk of diabetes, Alzheimer's and other cognitive conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke.

Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing each day and seeing the dentist are not the only factors that can impact oral health. According to a new report from WalletHub, where you live can also impact the state of your impact dental health.

The report revealed that some states have higher numbers of dental providers, which improves access to care. Another significant factor in oral health status is whether the area's drinking water systems have been treated with fluoride.

'Fluoride can help to remineralize the teeth that have been weakened by decay-causing bacteria or acid erosion,' Armstrong said.

The CDC expects that in 2020, almost 80 percent of public water drinking systems will be treated with fluoride.

To determine which states had the healthiest teeth and most potential for positive oral health outcomes, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia using 26 key indicators of dental wellness. These indicators include the rate of adolescents who visited the dentist in the last year, the cost of dental treatment and how individuals felt about their quality of life concerning their oral health.

The researchers found that the best state for oral health in the nation was Wisconsin, with a score of 75.69. Illinois came in at 75.65, and Minnesota took the third spot with 74.84.

Texas ranked No. 45 out of 51, with a score of 42.28.

Mississippi was last on the list with a score of 33.74.

 

Source: WalletHub. 2020's States with the Best & Worst Dental Health. 6 February 2020.