Roughly 19 million veterans live in the US, comprising about 6% of the total population. Those veterans are more likely to experience worse oral health outcomes — higher rates of tooth decay, higher rates of gum disease, and an increased need for restorative dental care — compared to nonveterans.
A forward-thinking white paper from CareQuest Institute and the American Institute of Dental Public Health (AIDPH) aims to shine a light on the social, structural, and individual drivers of these outcomes.
The paper is a result of convening many stakeholders across veteran organizations and oral health to review gaps in access for veterans and explore ways to address them. An evaluation of the landscape found:
- 42% of veterans reported having had gum treatment or bone loss around their teeth, which is a significantly higher proportion than reported by nonveterans (27%).
- Roughly 2 in 5 veterans described their oral health as fair or poor. This extrapolates to 8 million veterans with deficient oral health.
- Nearly 24% of veterans live in rural areas, where consistent access to care can be challenging.
The paper identifies several strategic recommendations to improve access to and quality of care, including:
- Expanding eligibility criteria for veterans to receive oral health services
- Expanding the role of Federally Qualified Health Centers and rural health clinics
- Advancing medical-dental integration in veteran health care
You may also be interested in:
- WORKSHOP: The Data-Driven Economic Implications of Veteran Oral Health, join this workshop on August 16 at 12 p.m. CT to review insights about the cost savings of providing effective, holistic oral health care to veterans, and learn how to access data about veteran oral health in your community. Register.
- Why We (Still) Need to Add Dental to Medicare, a report that synthesizes results from several studies to explain why older adults need oral health coverage.
- Advancing Equity Through Oral Health Fund, an overview of CareQuest Institute’s grantmaking portfolio that aligns with strategies to equitably advance systems change at the local, state, and national level.