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White Paper Calls for Improvements in Veteran Oral Health

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PHOTO COURTESY: DRAZEN ZIGIC/ ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Calling attention to gaps in care and access, the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health and American Institute of Dental Public Health have published strategic recommendations to improve veteran oral health. The groups note that compared to nonveterans, veterans are more likely to experience worse oral health outcomes, including higher rates of caries and periodontal disease. The guidance was issued in a new white paper, “Veteran Oral Health: Expanding Access and Equity,” that focuses on the need to better understand the significant deficits surrounding veteran oral health.

The researchers’ review of the latest evidence reveals that approximately 42% of veterans report having periodontal treatment or bone loss around their teeth, as compared to 27% of nonveterans. Roughly two in five, or 8 million veterans, describe their oral health as fair or poor. In addition, nearly 24% live in rural areas, where access to care can be challenging.

As part of their recommendations, the authors suggest that access and quality of care could be improved by broadening eligibility criteria for veterans to receive oral health services, expanding the role of federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics, and advancing medical/dental integration within the veteran healthcare system. 

From Decisions in Dentistry. June 2022;8(6)8.

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