Health United States 2020-2021

Dental visit

Data on dental visits in the past year are from the Sample Child and Sample Adult questionnaires of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). From 1997 through 2018, respondents were asked, “About how long has it been since [you/your child] last saw or talked to a dentist? Include all types of dentists, such as orthodontists, oral surgeons, and all other dental specialists as well as hygienists.” In 2001, the question was modified slightly to ask respondents how long it had been since they last saw a dentist. Starting in 2019, respondents are asked, “About how long has it been since [you/your child] last had a dental examination or cleaning? Include cleanings from all types of dental care providers, such as dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, and all other dental specialists.” Questions about dental visits were not asked for children under age 2 for 1997–1999 and under age 1 for 2000 and beyond. Estimates presented in Health, United States include people who are edentulous (have lost all their natural teeth). Edentulism is more common in people aged 65 and over, and those without teeth are less likely to visit the dentist. Based on NHIS data during 1997–2018, 19%–30% of people aged 65 and over had lost all their natural teeth. In 1997–2018, 66%–73% of older people with their natural teeth had a dental visit in the past year compared with 17%–34% of older people without their natural teeth.

Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022