The Hour of Need: Productivity Time Lost Due to Urgent Oral Health Needs 

Published 02/02/2024

Adults in the US miss more than 243 million hours of productivity time due to oral health problems, according to findings from CareQuest Institute’s State of Oral Health Equity in America survey. Respondents’ lost productivity time was due to their own oral health problems, or oral health problems in children and other adults in their care.  

More key findings from the research include: 

  • Lost productivity time due to untreated dental disease costs the US an estimated $45 billion each year. 
  • Adults missed 183 million hours of productivity time due to their own oral pain or unplanned dental visits and 60 million hours due to oral pain or dental visits of children or other adults in their care. 
  • Missing productivity time was significantly associated with identifying as female, Hispanic, or having to travel 45 minutes or more to see a dental provider. 

The authors write, “. . . those with lower-paying and hourly jobs are more likely to lose more work hours due to unexpected dental visits than those in higher-paying, salaried occupations.” They recommend three solutions to mitigate the impact of oral health problems on work and school time: 1) increase the number of oral health professionals in rural areas; 2) integrate medical and dental care in colocated clinics; and 3) provide minimally invasive care to arrest dental caries in early stages. 

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