Residents of Southern U.S. Least Likely to Visit the Dentist, Poll Shows

teeth cleaningA new Gallup poll has found that residents of the American south are least likely to visit their dentist office regularly, with only 60% of Southerners reporting they visited the dentist for teeth cleanings in the last 12 months.

In addition, a Bloomberg Visual Data survey showed that four of the five worst dental health offenders in the United States are located in the deep south; the fifth is West Virginia.

The news comes even as economic conditions have improved in the south, along with the growth of a more health-conscious cultural mindset. So what’s at stake for southerners, and anyone else, who has neglected their dental health?

Numerous studies show that skipping regular teeth cleaning appointments can have dire consequences. About 23% of adults aged 20 to 64 have untreated tooth decay, 92% of people in this age group have had dental caries, and at least half of all Americans have some type of periodontal, or gum, disease as a result.

The fact that gum disease is now more common than the common cold has concerned many family dentists. Periodontal disease, when left untreated, can result in tooth decay and loss — more than 35 million Americans are missing all their natural teeth — as well as diabetes and heart disease.

Ultimately, untreated periodontal disease in its latest stages will require you to visit an emergency dentist or cosmetic dentist to help reverse the damage done to your teeth, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.

The only guaranteed way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease is to receive regular teeth cleanings. Experts recommend that you go to your dentist for a teeth cleaning procedure twice a year.