Oral health problems costing U.S. adults more than their teeth

Tooth Pain Woman

U.S. adults miss more than 243 million hours of work and school due to untreated dental disease and pain. The lost productivity costs the U.S. an estimated $45 billion annually, according to a new report from the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.

Additionally, oral health problems and unplanned dental appointments negatively affect patients’ caregivers, and they have a more significant effect on some patients, like those with lower incomes, according to the organization’s “The Hour of Need: Productivity Time Lost Due to Urgent Oral Health Needs” report that was released on February 6.

“No one should have to sacrifice their schedule or pay because of preventable health issues,” Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, MBA, CareQuest’s president and CEO, said in a press release dated February 6.

CareQuest based its findings on its annual State of Oral Health Equity in America survey that included responses from 5,240 adults.

Adults reported missing about 182 million hours for their own oral pain or unplanned dental visits, according to CareQuest. Parents and caregivers reported losing productivity time due to the toothaches and unexpected dental appointments of children and others. Others’ oral health problems cost 9 million adults more than 60 million total work and school hours.

Approximately 5.7 million parents and guardians missed an estimated total of 38.5 million productive hours due to their children’s oral pain or surprise dental visits. Meanwhile, 3.3 million caregivers reported missing an estimated 22 million hours of productivity time due to either taking those they care for to an unplanned dental appointment or staying home with them due to their dental pain, according to the results.

“This new report underscores the urgency of promoting equitable access to oral and overall healthcare,” Minter-Jordan said.


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