Data Shows Americans Understand the Importance of Oral Health to Overall Health,
Yet Half Don’t See a Connection Between Oral Health and Serious Medical Conditions  

COLUMBIA, S.C. (May 26, 2021) … The vast majority of Americans recognize the importance of oral health and made it a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet approximately half remain largely unaware of oral health’s connection to some of the most common serious health conditions, from diabetes to dementia. Those were among the findings in the 2020 State of America’s Oral Health Report, recently released by Delta Dental Plans Association. The nationwide analysis of consumer opinions and behaviors relating to oral health is based on findings from two surveys of 2,000+ American adults and parents of children 12 and under. 

The report revealed: 

  • 93% of Americans consider oral health to be very or extremely important to overall health.
  • 90% of American adults believe that maintaining their oral health has been essential to protecting their overall health throughout the pandemic.
  • 65% of Americans report oral health has become more of a priority as a result of the pandemic.
  • 77% of parents worry that oral health issues will have a negative impact on their children’s overall confidence. 
  • However, only around one in two Americans agree that oral health is closely linked to several medical conditions, including respiratory health (57%), diabetes (52%), high blood pressure (51%), strokes (50%) and dementia (39%).

The report also showed that Americans are still far from immune to dental issues, with 80% having cavities and 67% reporting they experienced pain or toothache. Just over half of Americans faced unwanted consequences when oral health issues arose, including lost sleep and missed work, while children missed 4.5 days of school over the last 12 months because of oral health issues.

Ron Inge, DDS, chief dental officer, chief operating officer and vice president of professional services at Delta Dental of South Carolina, commented on the significance of the findings in the report.

“It’s encouraging to see that the overwhelming majority of Americans understand the vital importance of oral health to overall health. Yet, it’s concerning that dental issues are impacting so many, and that a high percentage of Americans don’t see a connection between mouth health and serious medical conditions,” said Dr. Inge. “It’s imperative for us to continue to educate people about oral health’s role in systemic health, and empower them to live better lives through improved dental health by making it a top priority.” 

To access and download Delta Dental’s 2020 State of America’s Oral Health Report and learn more about its findings and methodology.

About the related surveys

Delta Dental’s Adult’s Oral Health & Wellness Survey was conducted from December 28, 2020, through January 8, 2021, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000+ Americans ages 18+, with a margin of error of +/- 3%.

Delta Dental’s Children’s Oral Health & Wellness Survey was conducted during the same period, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000+ American parents with children 12 and under, with the same margin of error. 

About Delta Dental Plans Association
Based in Oak Brook, Illinois, Delta Dental Plans Association is the not-for-profit national association of the 39 independent Delta Dental companies. Through these companies, Delta Dental is the nation’s largest dental insurance provider, covering more than 80 million Americans and offering the country’s largest dental network with approximately 156,000 participating dentists. Over the last decade, Delta Dental companies provided over $1.75 billion in direct and in-kind support to improve the oral health of our communities across the country. Visit for information. 

About Delta Dental of South Carolina
Delta Dental of South Carolina is a trade name of Delta Dental of Missouri, a dental benefits provider and a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, which operates in South Carolina under that name. It provides more than 335,000 members in South Carolina with access to affordable, high-quality dental care through group plans tailored to meet the needs of organizations of all sizes, from large corporations to small businesses with two or more employees. Delta Dental also offers dental benefit plans directly to individuals and families. The company proudly supports oral health initiatives, educational programs and charitable causes that help educate people about the importance of dental health and provide free dental care to those in need. It also created the South Carolina Dental Care Resource Guide to help individuals access information about low-cost and free dental care options in their area—available online at To learn more about the company, visit