Healthy Mouths: Why They Matter for Adults and State Budgets

Published 02/05/2020

There are a variety of approaches to adult coverage, divided into four broad categories. The first category are the 20 states providing a comprehensive Medicaid dental benefit for adults with annual spending caps of at least $1,000. The second category includes 16 states that provide a limited adult dental benefit with a lower spending cap. The third category are the 11 states whose Medicaid programs only cover emergency dental care and the last are the three states offering no services at all for adults.

States without a comprehensive dental benefit not only make it harder for adults to stay healthy but the lack of a benefit can also undermine their state budgets. How? Because a lack of dental coverage has broad consequences that ripple back to state budgets. When oral health deteriorates, it can negatively affect low-income adults’ employment status and lead to larger health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and more.