Going to the dentist can be expensive. But not going to the dentist can be even more expensive. With the total oral health costs approaching nearly half a trillion dollars, there are many opportunities for us to reduce the total costs of care by improving people’s access to healthcare.
Direct and Indirect Costs
A recent study estimated the amount that dental diseases costs each year, including both direct costs–the amount spent to treat them–and indirect costs–time lost from work due to dental disease. The direct cost of dental disease was estimated around $298 billion dollars, and the indirect costs were nearly half again at about $144 billion, for a total cost of dental disease of around $442 billion.
Although these costs are substantial, they also represent an opportunity for substantial savings.
Preventative Dental Care Can Save You
Improving preventive dental care could significantly reduce the costs of dental treatment. Studies show that early intervention and screening can reduce overall cost of treating dental disease by about 7%. In other words, getting more people to the dentist could save about $21 billion dollars a year.
But that’s not all. With proper preventive maintenance, there will be fewer days lost to recovery from root canal procedures or tooth extractions, fewer days of lost productivity due to toothaches. This cost savings hasn’t been extensively studied, but in the US alone 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental disease. Based on school days lost studies, we might be able to cut time lost by about 25%, which could represent a potential savings of up to $36 billion dollars, for a total savings of about $57 billion dollars.
Preventive Dental Care Can Affect Overall Healthcare Costs
But dental care represents a relatively small portion of overall healthcare costs, about 4.6% of global healthcare spending. However, it also affects the other 95.4% of our spending as well, often through gum disease. Studies have shown that diabetic patients who get regular dental screenings pay about 7% less for their overall healthcare costs. In addition, people with cardiovascular disease pay about 4% less if they get regular dental screenings. Since diabetes accounts for 20% of overall healthcare costs in the US, we might see a savings of $134 billion out of the $9.609 trillion in total healthcare costs. Cardiovascular care accounts for 16.7% of overall healthcare costs, so preventive dental care could potentially save another $64 billion, for a total of $198 billion of potential savings on general healthcare bills if people got more regular dental checkups.
How Much Can You Save?
Adding together the dental health savings and the overall health savings, we could save as much as $250 billion a year just by making more regular dental checkups. How much you save depends on your oral health and what other health conditions you have.
If you are looking to save money not just on dental care, but on your overall healthcare bills, checkups and cleanings are your best option. For help lowering your healthcare bills in San Diego, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a dentist at Strober Dental.