Health Is Getting Worse Across America, but Dentists Can Help
Dentists are often a vanguard, seeing major health trends develop before others in the medical community realize that they’re happening. In a recent issue of Journal of the American Dental Association, this community made clear just how much there is to be concerned about in the future, from increasing chronic disease to medical costs that won’t stop going up.
Michael Glick, an editor for the Journal, laid out the various challenges facing the U.S. population at large and dentists in particular. As millennials now make up the biggest age group in America, Glick’s piece focused on them.
Glick wrote that as millennials age, their health will get worse, which in turn may have an effect on economic factors, including unemployment and growth. Between the medical and economic issues facing millennials, greater mental health struggles are to be expected, up to and including suicide.
Millennials are Less Healthy than Older Generations were in the Same age range.
The group of people most commonly seen as millennials is currently aged 24 up through 39 as of 2020. That includes anyone born from 1981 all the way through 1996. As the biggest age group in the United States, millennials are also the biggest group of workers in our economy. And unfortunately, many reports now point to millennials being less healthy than older generations were in the same age range.
Medical advances have led to decreases in deaths caused by major diseases like diabetes and cancer. However, mental health-related deaths are only going up. Back in 1980, suicide was only ranked fifth in most common causes of death; in 2017 it had risen to second place. The past 50 years have also seen deaths caused by accidents or unintentional injury rise over 80 percent. That statistic includes deaths caused by overdosing, which is a common side effect of deep mental health issues.
Nearly 60% of U.S. Citizens Had a Chronic Condition of One Kind or Another in 2014
While major diseases may be getting less fatal, chronic diseases such as heart disease, tooth decay, and diabetes are only becoming more common in the population. In all likelihood, this trend will continue.
According to Glick’s write-up, nearly 60 percent of U.S. citizens had a chronic condition of one kind or another in 2014. As many as 12 percents were listed as having five or more chronic conditions. This is a major cause of concern for all medical professionals.
With more health problems comes more money sunk into healthcare. Glick says that healthcare costs rose over 150 percent since 2000. As much as 90 percent of that spending each year was devoted to mental health and chronic health problems.
So Where Do Dentists Come in on These Huge, Overwhelming Issues?
As it turns out, they can actually have a major effect. After all, one of the biggest and most common chronic diseases in the world is tooth decay, and it can lead to lots of other issues.
Almost everyone, even people who aren’t addressing other medical problems, see a dentist every year. That makes dentists uniquely positioned to offer support and guidance for patients who may need further help outside of their oral care. This can lead to improved overall health in the long term if patients trust their dentist and take their advice.
From birth all the way until death, people need to take care of their teeth and suffer problems related to them. Dentists have the awesome power to not only treat those oral health issues but also to help guide patients toward much-improved health across the full spectrum of their lives.
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