Left untreated, dental health problems can cause pain and tooth loss, impair children’s growth and social development, impede productivity and job opportunities, exacerbate chronic conditions, and complicate detection of oral cancers. And when dental pain becomes too severe to ignore, many people—more than 2 million in 2012— resort to emergency room visits, which provide no treatment for underlying oral health problems, but have a high price for patients and taxpayers: $1.6 billion in 2012, with Medicaid’s share totaling $520 million.
Pew’s dental campaign promotes cost-effective policies that will mean millions more people get the dental care they need to lead healthy lives. We conduct and commission research to define issues, identify solutions, and assess how states are responding to dental care challenges. We work with professionals with extensive expertise in dental health policy at the state and national levels.
Reports, testimony, and other materials by Pew’s dental experts are helping to drive policy changes in a number of states.
Pew’s dental campaign works to close gaps in dental care access by: