Investing in Prevention
75% of medical health care dollars goes to treating “preventable” chronic diseases and only 5% is spent on prevention. The same is true for dental health care dollars (Nash, Reifsnyder, Fabius, and Pracilio, 2011).
Dental care in the United States accounted for 7.2% of per capita healthcare expenditures, higher than the expenditures for cancer treatment (5.4%) and diabetes (4.6%). If significant prevention measures are not implemented, the annual cost of dental services is expected to rise 58% by 2018 (Fucillo, 2011).
- 17.5% of children, ages 5-19, have untreated dental cavities
- 27.4% of adults, ages 20-44, have untreated dental cavities
- 20% of children, ages 6-9, have untreated cavities
- A study in Washington State revealed that a trip to the ER was the first “dental visit” for one in four children overall, and for roughly half the children younger than 3½ years.
- A visit to the ER costs 10 times the cost of the visit to the private dental office for preventive services.
- From 2008 to 2010, there was a 31% increase in dental-related ER visits by Oregon’s Medicaid enrollees.
There are two interventions that reduce dental cavities in a community (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015):
- Community water fluoridation
- School dental sealant programs
Average Costs to Start Fluoridating?
For a city of about 1 million people = $6 per person for the first year due to costs of the equipment, and 50 cents per person every year thereafter.
Average Cost of One Dental Filling?
Delta Dental: A child that has a molar filled at age 10 will pay over $2,187 to maintain that tooth by the time he reaches the age of 79. If he has several cavities, the cost will increase accordingly.