Delta Dental survey: Good oral health is key to overall wellness, including behavioral health

Poll says more than 9 in 10 believe dental visit is as important as annual physical

Checkups, fillings and teeth cleanings: Sure, Delta Dental of New Jersey can help with that. The company, however, is eager to do so much more.

CEO Dennis Wilson has long been a strong proponent of the idea that good oral health is good for overall health — including behavioral health. He also has been a strong supporter of increased access and equity for the most vulnerable.

“Delta Dental of New Jersey is dedicated to creating solutions that advance overall health and wellness, including the recent development of a special health care needs benefit,” he said. “This benefit provides patients with dental coverage for extra exams, extra cleanings and more to help increase access to dental care, which is the leading unmet health care need for millions of Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other special health care needs.”

Wilson and Delta Dental are leading the charge — and their efforts are drawing praise and understanding.

The recent 2024 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness Report, a nationwide analysis of consumer opinions and behaviors relating to oral health, presented by Delta Dental of New Jersey, revealed a strong consumer understanding of oral health’s vital role in overall wellness

An overwhelming majority of adults (91%) believed that their dental visit is as important as an annual physical.

The report also found a greater awareness among adults of oral health’s connection to specific health conditions and diseases such as respiratory illness and diabetes. Younger generations, specifically Gen Z and Millennials, are most likely to appreciate this linkage — one that extends to behavioral health.

“The results from this year’s report show the link between oral hygiene and its impact on mental health, with 92% of adults agreeing good oral health increases their confidence,” Wilson said.

Delta Dental commissioned the research of 2,000 U.S. adults and parents of children 12 and under. Here are some key findings:

Good oral hygiene can support mental health

  • More than 9 in 10 (92%) adults believed taking action to protect their oral health allows them to be more confident.
  • Over 3 in 4 adults (77%) said oral health is closely connected to mental well-being.

A rise in preventive oral health care pays off

  • More than 8 in 10 adults (83%) who made a trip to the dentist in 2023 did so for preventive care, increasing from 78% in 2022.
  • Notably, there was a corresponding decline in unexpected dental visits among adults, decreasing from 41% in 2022 to 36% in 2023.

Teledentistry gains traction

  • Nearly half of adults would use teledentistry when seeking oral health care (47%), and over half would trust the care (54%).
  • Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to engage in teledentistry and trust the care they receive through these services.