Oral Health Is Essential to Veteran Productivity and Well-Being

Published 03/19/2024

Nearly 600,000 veterans reported productivity loss in the past year due to oral health problems, according to a report from CareQuest Institute and the American Institute of Dental Public Health. The report finds that lack of access to dental care leads to significant losses in productivity time and money for veterans and their employers. Other key findings include:

  • Veterans with urgent dental needs were approximately five times more likely to report poor functioning and work compared to veterans who needed routine dental care.
  • Poor oral health is linked to several chronic conditions, including heart disease. Among veterans with heart disease, the annual cost of missed workdays was four times higher for those who did not have a dental visit in the past year.
  • Nearly 3 million veterans felt self-conscious or embarrassed because of their teeth, mouth, or dentures, which “has profound effects on socialization and feelings of loneliness.”

The authors write, “Service to country, deployment, and combat experience amplify a veteran’s risk of poor health outcomes and reduced quality of life.” Yet, 85% who are eligible for medical care through the Veteran’s Affairs Administration (VA) are not eligible for dental coverage or care. Expanding that eligibility, write the authors, is just one of several solutions to improve oral health for veterans.  

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