Delta Dental survey: Inflation — not COVID — is keeping people from going to dentist

Insurer, concerned about impact, has donated more than $750K to organizations helping children, seniors, veterans get care

While Americans overwhelmingly believe that oral health is essential to overall health, they have greatly reduced getting care. The reason why may not be what you think.

According to a recent public opinion poll by the Delta Dental Institute in New Jersey and Connecticut, concerns about cost (inflation) topped safety concerns related to COVID.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,300 individuals in October, found nearly half of adults surveyed — including 42% of dental and health care workers — said they delayed or canceled a dental cleaning, citing inflation and rising costs as their primary concern. Adults in lower income brackets were much more likely to delay oral health care than their higher-earning counterparts.

This, despite the fact that 95% of adults agree oral health is essential to overall health — and almost 6 in 10 said they would continue to receive routine, preventive dental care to avoid major health care costs down the line, even if money were tight.

Push for Medicare coverage

A recent survey by the Delta Dental Institute showed broad support for dental coverage to be included in Medicare:

  • Overall: 85% of adults want Medicare to include dental care;
  • By party: 93% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans support dental coverage in Medicare;
  • Seniors: Almost two-thirds of seniors would be more likely to routinely visit the dentist if Medicare covered dental care.

The results had great impact on Dennis Wilson, CEO of Delta Dental of New Jersey and Connecticut, who said the company will work to address the concern.

“At Delta Dental, we understand that oral health is critical to overall health,” he said. “Cost should not be a barrier to care, particularly for those in underserved communities. That’s why, locally and nationally, Delta Dental is investing in innovative research, products, technology and partnerships to help ensure equitable access to affordable oral health care for all.”

The Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation provided more than $761,000 in grants throughout New Jersey this year, supporting dental care for more than 14,000 residents in the state. More than 26,000 dental care kits and materials also were distributed to adults and children in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Here are just some of the ways this money is being spent, according to Delta Dental:


  • KinderSmile Foundation: It was granted $100,000 for dental supplies, direct patient care and other dental program expenses for children and those with developmental disabilities in Bloomfield, Trenton and Newark via the Boys & Girls Club of Newark.
  • The Foundation for Morristown Medical Center: It received $100,000 for dental supplies, restorative materials and lab fees for underinsured and uninsured seniors, children and those with developmental disabilities.
  • Overlook Foundation: Delta Dental granted $40,000 to the Overlook Foundation to support the expansion of Overlook Medical Center’s comprehensive oral health services program, which serves children in Union and Essex counties. This grant will expand the role of Overlook’s patient navigator (a bilingual registered dental hygienist) in primary care settings at Overlook Family Medicine and Overlook’s HealthStart Clinic, as well as in the community.


  • Jersey Shore University Medical Center Foundation: It received $50,000 to support patient care, a dental hygienist, supplies and lab costs for preventive and comprehensive dental care for uninsured seniors in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
  • JFK Medical Center Foundation: It was awarded $40,353 to support dental supplies, patient care, a dental hygienist and other program expenses for uninsured and underinsured seniors and veterans in Middlesex and Union counties.


  • Zufall Health Center: It received $65,000 to cover lab fees and patient care for veterans as part of the organization’s Smiles for Our Heroes program, serving 300 veterans across Morris County. The organization also received $55,000 to support the establishment of a dental assistant training program in north, west and central New Jersey that will educate up to 50 dental assistants who will provide services to children and seniors.
  • JFK Medical Center Foundation: It was awarded $40,353 to support dental supplies, patient care, a dental hygienist and other program expenses for uninsured and underinsured seniors and veterans in Middlesex and Union counties.

Developmentally disabled

  • The Matheny Medical and Educational Center: It was granted $50,000 for specialized dental equipment to provide care to developmentally disabled children and adults, as well as support personal protective equipment costs and a direct support professional/transporter who ensures each patient’s comfort during dental treatment.