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The Cost of Poor Oral Health

The Many Costs (Financial and Well-Being) of Poor Oral Health

Financial limitations often prevent people from getting timely dental care. More than half of Americans delay dental and other types of medical care due to an inability to afford it. When left unaddressed for too long, dental problems become serious for far too many people. In Illinois, one third of children in rural areas have untreated tooth decay. Illinois children living in poverty are five times more likely to have fair or poor oral health.

The negative impacts of poor dental health go well beyond just having bad teeth, they also affect:

  • Health;
  • Employment; and
  • Well-being.

Yes, there are direct treatment costs, but there are also many hidden and unexpected costs of poor oral health. They are not as clear and concise as a dental bill, yet they are very real. These crippling long-term costs affect nearly everyone but particularly impact the low-income and under-served families.

Poor oral health has long-term effects that are associated with serious illnesses like cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, pneumonia, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and birth complications. According to the ADA report, Oral Health and Well-Being, 38% of people feel life in general is less satisfying due to the poor condition of their mouth and teeth.

The same report finds that:

  • 1 in 5 adults experience anxiety and 23 percent feel embarrassment due to the condition of their teeth and mouth.
  • Another 1 in 4 adults avoid smiling altogether.
  • Even 22 percent of young adults avoid social activities due to the appearance of their teeth.

Direct treatment costs can be substantial for a variety of common conditions that result when oral hygiene or preventative dental care are neglected. For example, gum disease treatments can range from $500 to $10,000 in total depending on the severity of the disease.

For more information about the costs of poor oral health access the full article here:

Other useful links to learn more about the financial impact of oral health: