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United States Divided When It Comes To Oral Health

CHICAGO, Sept. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A survey of 2,088 U.S. adults conducted online in July on behalf of Oral Health America (OHA) by Harris Poll shows that two Americas are emerging when it comes to oral healthcare. Those with a household income of under $50,000, including many who live in urban areas and young adults (including students), are more likely to skip dental visits, with 74 percent of those surveyed delaying care for financial reasons or due to lack of insurance coverage.

Most Americans have at least one habit required to maintain a healthy mouth, with 92 percent brushing their teeth daily. However, low-income Americans, young adults, students and those with lower education levels are also less likely to perform daily hygiene activities like flossing (43 percent compared to 56 percent overall) and eating healthy foods (56 percent compared to 62 percent for everyone surveyed). This group is also more likely to smoke, with 25 percent reporting cigarette usage. 

OHA's Fall for Smiles campaign, which kicks off today, works to bridge the gap between these two Americas by educating all Americans about the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth through daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits, eating healthy foods and avoiding tobacco products.

"All Americans, regardless of income level, age or where they live, deserve to have a healthy mouth. We have a societal responsibility to educate the public and our legislators about why oral health is important for overall health, and to ensure that all Americans, particularly those most vulnerable to disease, are able to obtain the care they need," said OHA President and CEO Beth Truett. "By creating this year's Fall for Smiles campaign, we can make a difference in how oral health is perceived and treated in the United States."

To shine a light on the disparities between these "two Americas," OHA and Oral Healthcare Can't Wait, an initiative of the Dental Trade Alliance, are hosting an event on Capitol Hill on Sept. 10. The event, "Communities Matter: Does Your Neighborhood Determine Your Oral Health," will bring together oral health leaders to address the national issues that affect lower-income communities. In addition, OHA board members and supporters will meet with members of Congress to encourage them to support policies that impact overall health through improved oral health. More information about attending this event can be found on the Fall for Smiles webpage.

"Ensuring that all Americans have access to oral healthcare is key to improving the oral health and overall health of the nation," said Dental Trade Alliance CEO Gary Price. "The Dental Trade Alliance is proud to support Oral Health America and Fall for Smiles in bringing attention to this important issue both by educating the public and asking members of Congress to support oral health policies."

Everyone is encouraged to take part in Fall for Smiles and to take advantage of a wide variety of campaign resources that can be found on the Fall for Smiles webpage at www.oralhealthamerica.org/fallforsmiles. These resources include a social media guide, kids' activity booklet, campaign booklet, Spanish-language materials and more. Dental offices looking to do events in their communities or to provide pro-bono care can also apply for donated dental product through OHA's Product Donation Project.

Fall for Smiles is generously sponsored by: 3M ESPE, American Association of Dental Office Managers, Crest + OralB, Midmark, DentaQuest, Denticator, Hu-Friedy, National Dental Association, Oral Healthcare Can't Wait, OSAP, Patterson Dental and Trident.

About Oral Health America

OHA's mission is to change lives by connecting communities with resources to increase access to oral health care, education and advocacy for all Americans, especially those most vulnerable. Through Smiles Across America®, which serves 440,000 children annually, the Wisdom Tooth Project™, which reaches tens of thousands of older adults, and the Campaigns for Oral Health Equity, which prioritizes oral health alongside other chronic diseases, OHA provides needed oral health care and education, helping Americans of all ages to have a healthy mouth and understand the importance of oral health for overall health. For more information about Oral Health America, please visit www.oralhealthamerica.org.

SOURCE Oral Health America

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