Treatment Needs in Adults (Age 20 to 64)

Oral health in general has improved significantly over the past several decades in all population subgroups. In spite of this improvement, significant disparities are still found in some population groups.

Time Since Last Dental Visit (Table 1)

  • 12% of Adults 20 to 64 have not been to the dentist within the past 5 years.
  • 60% of all Adults age 20 to 64 have been to the dentist in the past year.
  • More Black and Hispanic Adults and those with lower incomes or less education have not been to the dentist in the past 5 years.
  • White adults and those with higher incomes and more education are more likely to have seen a dentist within the past year.

Perceived Condition of Teeth and Mouth (Table 2)

  • A quarter of Adults 20 to 64 report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is excellent or very good.
  • 14% of all Adults age 20 to 64 report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is poor.
  • More Black and Hispanic Adults and those with lower incomes and less education report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is poor.
  • Current smokers are much more likely to report that the condition of their mouth is poor.
  • Adults with higher incomes and more education are much more likely to report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is very good or excellent.

Table 1 presents the amount of time since the last dental visit among Adults age 20 to 64 and for selected subgroups. Each number represents the percentage of subjects who visited their dentist within that time frame.

Table 2 presents the perceived (self-reported) condition of teeth and mouth among Adults age 20 to 64 and for selected subgroups. Each number represents the percentage subjects who perceived their own mouth in that condition.

Table 1: Adults, Time Since Last Dental Visit

Time since last dental visit among Adults 20 to 64 years of age, by selected characteristics: United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004
Characteristic Never 1 Year or Less 1 to 2 Years 2 to 3 Years 3 to 5 Years More than 5 Years
Age            
20 to 34 years 2.64 54.59 15.95 8.33 7.52 10.98
35 to 49 years 1.07 62.54 12.76 6.56 6.50 10.57
50 to 64 years 0.40 62.80 10.27 6.77 5.69 14.08
Sex            
Male 2.01 55.30 13.29 7.98 7.51 13.90
Female 0.88 64.27 13.14 6.49 5.80 9.42
Race and Ethnicity            
White, non-Hispanic * 64.30 12.28 6.54 6.27 10.44
Black, non-Hispanic 1.27 50.09 16.85 9.44 8.41 13.95
Mexican American 10.19 42.90 14.99 8.58 8.80 14.54
Poverty Status (Income compared to Federal Poverty Level)            
Less than 100% FPL* 4.22 44.00 14.35 8.75 8.05 20.64
100% to 199% FPL 2.13 43.31 14.68 9.49 9.65 20.73
More than 100% FPL 0.39 66.94 12.90 6.23 5.71 7.83
Education            
Less than High School 5.43 38.41 15.41 9.43 9.19 22.12
High School 1.04 52.79 13.91 8.11 8.36 15.80
More than High School 0.30 70.16 12.24 6.62 5.01 6.13
Smoking Status            
Current Smoker 1.60 48.18 14.62 9.22 8.88 17.50
Former Smoker 1.43 63.65 11.95 6.23 5.96 10.78
Never Smoked 1.41 64.41 12.93 6.57 5.56 9.12
Overall 1.44 59.87 13.22 7.22 6.64 11.61

*FPL = Federal Poverty Level

Table 2: Adults, Perceived Condition of Teeth and Mouth

Perceived (self-reported) condition of teeth and mouth among adults 20 to 64 years of age, by selected characteristics: United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004
Characteristic Excellent or Very Good Good Fair Poor
Age        
20 to 34 years 26.01 37.60 26.27 10.12
35 to 49 years 26.35 35.06 24.06 14.53
50 to 64 years 23.73 33.74 26.09 16.45
Sex        
Male 23.08 36.33 26.67 13.92
Female 28.00 34.87 24.03 13.10
Race and Ethnicity        
White, non-Hispanic 29.63 36.45 22.02 11.90
Black, non-Hispanic 17.43 32.29 31.97 18.31
Mexican American 11.44 30.83 38.11 19.62
Poverty Status (Income compared to Federal Poverty Level)        
Less than 100% FPL* 13.84 26.24 31.42 28.50
100% to 199% FPL 13.62 28.63 33.07 24.68
More than 100% FPL 30.64 39.05 21.72 8.59
Education        
Less than High School 11.99 25.70 33.98 28.33
High School 17.05 35.10 30.14 17.71
More than High School 33.13 38.65 20.71 7.51
Smoking Status        
Current Smoker 14.03 30.53 30.03 25.41
Former Smoker 26.25 38.32 24.36 11.08
Never Smoked 30.93 37.26 23.20 8.60
Overall 25.56 35.60 25.34 13.50

*FPL = Federal Poverty Level

Data Source: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has been an important source of information on oral health and dental care in the United States since the early 1970s. Table 1 presents the latest NHANES (collected between 1999 and 2004) data regarding dental visits in adult.

Last Reviewed
July 2018