Hours Lost to Planned and Unplanned Dental Visits Among US Adults
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Hours Lost to Planned and Unplanned Dental Visits Among US Adults

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Poor oral health is associated with lost hours at work or school, which may affect a person’s productivity. The objective of our study was to estimate work or school hours lost to dental visits among adults aged 18 and older by the types of visits (emergency or unplanned; routine, planned, or orthodontic; or cosmetic) and to determine the factors associated with hours lost.


    We used the most recent Oral Health Supplement data, from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), to estimate the total hours lost at work or school for dental visits among adults in the United States. The associations of the hours lost in unplanned and planned dental visits with socioeconomic characteristics, oral health status, and affordability were calculated. We used χ2 tests and logistic regression to determine associations at P < .05.


    An average of 320.8 million work or school hours were lost annually for dental care in the United States, of which 92.4 million hours were for emergency (unplanned) care (0.99 h/adult), 159.8 million for routine (planned) care or orthodontic care (1.71 h/adult), and 68.6 million for cosmetic care (0.73 h/adult). Adults with poor oral health were more likely to lose one or more hours in unplanned dental visits (OR = 5.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.25–9.63) than those who reported very good oral health. Not being able to afford dental care was positively associated with more work hours lost in unplanned care (odds ratio [OR] = 2.56; 95% CI, 1.76–3.73). Compared with Hispanic adults, non-Hispanic white adults (OR = 2.09; 95% CI, 1.40–3.11) and non-Hispanic Asian adults and adults of other races/ethnicities (OR =1.91; 95% CI, 1.06–3.47) were more likely to lose any hours for planned care. Consistently, those with more than a high school education were more likely to lose any hours in planned care (OR = 1.39; 95% CI, 1.06–1.83) than those with a high school education or less.


    Dental problems result in hours lost from work and may adversely affect a person’s productivity. There is disparity in lost hours at work by race/ethnicity and dental care affordability.

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