Do you like your teeth? Good. Then, don’t be like almost a third of Garden State residents.
About 29 percent of New Jersey residents did not visit a dentist in the last year, according to a 2011-2016 survey done by the New Jersey Department of Health.
Just like their annual doctor visit, people tend to blow off their annual dentist visit which is just as important, said Jim Schulz of the New Jersey Dental Association.
“There’s a need to have an understanding of good oral health and the importance of going to the dentist before you have problems,” said Schulz. “It’s to try to get ahead of any cavities and diseases that may be there.”
One of the problems people tend to not think about is oral cancer, which can be undetectable until its later stages. Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not treated early.
“Dentists are in the front line of that,” said Schulz.
The New Jersey Dental Association recommends making a dentist visit at least once a year, although twice is ideal. However, because everyone’s teeth are unique, it’s best to talk to your dentist about how often you should schedule a visit.
When the data is broken down by county, it shows a stark divide in North Jersey.
Hudson, Essex and Passaic counties have some of the highest percentages of residents that did not visit their dentist in the last year. Hudson had the highest rate at 35.8 percent.
However, Morris, Somerset and Hunterdon have some of the lowest percentages in the state. Hunterdon had the lowest percentage, at 19.9 percent.
In South Jersey, both Salem and Cumberland are the counties with the highest percentages of residents that did not visit their dentist at 33 percent.
The data also shows that there’s disparities in the annual dentist visits in communities of color.
Hispanic residents did not go to the dentist in the last year at 39.9 percent— the highest rate among all races and ethnicities. Black non-Hispanic residents were the second highest at 37.5 percent.
At the same time, White non-Hispanic residents had the lowest percentage at 22.9 percent.
Men in New Jersey did not go to the dentist in the last year as much as women, the data shows.
While 31.6 percent of men did not go in for their annual dentist visit, the data found 26.1 percent of women did.
Among people over the age of 18, the youngest and oldest age groups had the highest percentage of residents who did not visit their dentist in the last year.
About 33.1 percent of New Jersey residents ages 18-34 and about 29.8 percent of residents over the age of 65 did not go to the dentist in the last year, according to the data.