25 states with the most toothless seniors

World's Most Expensive Dentures

According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association and the National Institutes of Health, approximately 25 percent of seniors over age 65 have no remaining natural teeth. While this is obviously a problem for the toothless people involved, it's also a symptom of a much larger, national issue.

Despite the advancements in dentistry and recent health care reform, health care shortage areas still exist. Many of these shortage areas are localized to poor, rural areas. In these areas, not only do people struggle to see a doctor when they come down with the flu, but they also struggle to get dental care. Though some tooth loss naturally occurs as people age, lack of care exacerbates this problem.

Under the Affordable Care Act, dental coverage is not required for adults. Given the numerous conditions linked to oral health, many people consider this a gaping hole in the legislation.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control, HealthGrove found the states with the most toothless seniors. Though they may have dentures or implants, they have no natural teeth remaining. For the 25 states with the most toothless seniors, we include the number of dentists per 100,000 people and the state poverty rate for context. The data indicate a moderate correlation between poverty and percentage toothless and a stronger inverse correlation between dentist density and percentage toothless — the more dentists in a community, the fewer toothless people.

The state of senior oral health drives us to consider the dental health of Americans in general. Losing teeth not only limits the ability to consume food, but it can cause emotional and psychological distress. It can also get very expensive by way of dentures and dental implants.

According to the Journal of Dental Hygiene, money spent on preventative oral health can lead to long-term savings on both personal and national levels — something for both consumers and politicians to consider.

In the case of ties, the state with the lower number of dentists per 100,000 people is ranked worse (in this case, higher).

#25. Pennsylvania

Percentage of Seniors Who Are Toothless: 33.7%
Dentist Density per 100K People: 48.4
Poverty Rate: 18.4%

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