New research from Delta Dental underscores the importance of preventive dental care and its essential role in achieving optimal overall health

Delta Dental releases its annual Preventive Care Dental Study, the largest and longest-running study of its kind

Washington, D.C. — Jan. 11, 2024 — New research from Delta Dental underscores the importance of preventive dental care and the essential role it can play in decreasing the occurrence of serious oral disease, improving other health problems, reducing disparities, and lowering health care costs. Now in its 13th year, the Preventive Dental Care Study uses oral health care measures to assess whether commercially insured members are getting evidence-based recommended preventive dental care. 

“As the oral health leader, we believe prevention is integral to maintaining the oral and overall health of our communities,” said Joseph Dill, DDS, MBA, Chief Dental Officer, Delta Dental Plans Association and Head of Dental Science, Delta Dental Institute. “This annual study serves as a vital tool for assessing the current landscape of preventive care delivery, empowering us to make data-driven decisions that ultimately benefit our members.”

Each year, Delta Dental analyzes the preventive dental care services used by Delta Dental members across the country (in an anonymized aggregate form) and prepares the annual study to identify gaps in care that can help target potential oral health interventions as well as other areas for further research. Specifically, this data helps identify trends in preventive treatment delivery for commercially insured people and identifies the percentage of those at the highest risk of developing oral disease who are receiving the care they need.

Key insights from the study:

  • Preventive treatment tends to decline as school-aged children get older, with more children at age 12 obtaining preventive care than those at age 15. Data continues to show most children ages 1-18 who are at risk for dental decay are not receiving recommended fluoride and sealant treatments.
  • Many children do not see the dentist for the first time before age 3, even though it is recommended to start preventive dental check-ups by age 1.
  • There are gaps in care that could help target research more effectively. Most dentists are not reporting caries risk documentation.
  • An encouraging finding shows that the percentage of adults aged 30+ who are at higher risk for tooth decay is slowly, but steadily declining. 
Read the study

About the Survey

The 2022 Preventive Dental Care Study uses de-identified, aggregate Delta Dental commercial plan data (excluding Medicaid/Medicare Advantage plans) representative of all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico from 2017 – 2022. Data includes only Delta Dental commercial claims and is not necessarily representative of all commercial dental insurance plans.

About the Delta Dental Institute

The Delta Dental Institute is dedicated to advancing oral health for all Americans in partnership with Delta Dental companies and dedicated partners across the country. With expertise rooted in Delta Dental's rich history of oral health leadership, we engage in and support oral health research, community outreach, and advocacy, striving to ensure that everyone understands the importance of oral health to overall health and has access to the care they need. Visit for more information.

About Delta Dental Plans Association

Based in Chicago, Illinois, Delta Dental Plans Association is the not-for-profit national association of the 39 independent Delta Dental companies. Through these companies, Delta Dental is the nation's largest dental benefits provider, covering more than 89 million Americans and offering the country's largest dental network with approximately 152,000 participating dentists. Over the last decade, Delta Dental companies and their foundations invested over $1.9 billion to improve the oral and overall health of our communities.