Veteran Dental Care Stimulates the Economy and Improves Overall Health

Published 04/08/2022

A visual report from CareQuest Institute and the American Institute of Dental Public Health examines the economic and health implications of improving access to dental care for veterans, a group that has higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease than nonveterans. 

In a survey of more than 2,000 veterans, nearly one-third rated their dental health as “poor” and more than half said they could not see a dentist due to cost. According to the report, approximately 1.1 million veterans spend at least $2,000 out of pocket each year on dental costs — a projected cost of more than $2.2 billion annually. 

The authors write that “chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease can be effectively managed through routine access to dental care.” They estimate more than $7 billion could be saved by managing chronic health conditions and reducing emergency department visits for dental care among veterans.  

The authors also write that when veterans do get dental care, it helps to stimulate local economies — particularly in rural communities, “where the average rural dentist creates five full-time equivalent local jobs and $340,000 in labor income.” 

You may also be interested in: 

  • Veteran Oral Health: Expanding Access and Equity, this white paper shines a light on the factors that drive poor oral health outcomes for veterans and identifies actions to improve access to and quality of care for veterans. 
  • Centering Veteran Voices, a blog that highlights takeaways from the Transforming Veteran Oral Health Colloquium held in February 2022.