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Health Care Reform Must Include Dental Care

Every American should receive the care necessary to promote good oral health. Most dental diseases are preventable, and early dental treatment has proven to be cost effective. In fact:
• Preventive care and early detection and treatment save $4 billion annually in the United States. (Delta Dental)
• Children who receive preventive dental care early in life have lifetime dental costs that are 40 percent lower than children who do not receive this care.
• The cost of providing preventive dental treatment is estimated to be 10 times less costly than managing symptoms of dental disease in a hospital emergency room.

Dental diseases are universal. Nearly every man, woman and child will experience some aspect of these diseases during their lifetimes. Most dental diseases will not heal without intervention. They are chronic, progressive and destructive over time. That’s why it is critical that individuals with unmet dental needs within the U.S. health care system obtain timely and cost-effective treatment. It will save lives. It will save money.

We urge President Obama, Members of Congress, and the health care community to make dental care an integral part of America’s health care system.

Charles N. Bertolami is the immediate past president of the American Dental Education Association and the Herman Robert Fox Dean of the New York University College of Dentistry.

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