The value of more widespread oral care can't be overstated. Consider these dental and non-dental cases:
- Diabetes: Diabetes not only worsens in the presence of gum disease but also serves as a risk factor for gum disease. If 60% of people with diabetes better managed their oral health, savings could equal close to $29 billion per year.
- Pregnancy: Poor oral health can complicate pregnancy, contributing to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth If 40% of pregnant women received the benefits of oral care, thus avoiding the additional medical costs of gum disease, savings could equal approximately $7 billion.
- Lung Disease: The mouth retains respiratory pathogens, so oral health affects lung health, especially for people with Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP). If 50% of VAP patients received oral care, estimated annual savings could reach $5 billion.
- Emergency Room Visits: Many people wait until their dental pain becomes severe and end up in the ER, which is much costlier than care in a dental office. If 50% of dental-related emergency room visits were handled in a community setting, the system could save around $826 million.
- Oral Cancer: Routine dental visits help detect oral cancer early on, which can lead to less complicated treatments, lower costs and higher survival rates. If 20% more oral cancer cases were detected early, estimated annual savings would range from $338 million to $495 million.
- Dental Sealants: These coatings placed on the surface of teeth are a simple, effective way to prevent decay (and reduce spending on more involved care) among low-income children. If 50% of these children benefited from dental sealants, savings could equal around $101 million.
These striking outcomes all underscore the far-reaching influence of oral care. When treated as an essential part of medical care, oral care improves overall health—in turn promising savings for individuals, employers and taxpayers.