Dollars and Sense

Treating dental decay is expensive. Untreated decay and poor childhood dental health impact childrens’ education, employment opportunities for adults and economic equity for women.

The economic impact of dental decay:

  • A ten-year old child who develops cavities will pay more than $2,000 over a lifetime to take care of the decayed tooth [47].
  • One study found that California children missed 874,000 school days in 2007 due to toothaches or other dental problems. The goal of creating an educated workforce is undermined when health issues interfere with schooling [48].
  • Adults who had poor dental health as kids find it harder to find a good job. Research confirms that people who are missing front teeth are viewed as less intelligent, less trustworthy, and less desirable than people without a gap in their smile [49].
  • Adults who received inadequate dental care as kids often miss work dealing with the consequences of dental decay [50].
  • Nationally, an estimated 164 million hours of work are missed each year because of dental problems [51].
  • According to a 2008 study by Columbia University, women who resided in communities with fluoridated water during childhood earn 4.5% more than women who did not [52]. Consumer and employer discrimination are the likely driving factors through which oral health affects earnings.