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ADA: Dental Spending Remained Flat Through 2012

January 31, 2014

Contact Information:
Rhys Saunders: Telephone: 312.440.2582 Email:
Rob Raible: Telephone: 202.789.5166 Email:

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Dental care spending remained flat through 2012 over the prior year, in part because working age adults are visiting dentists less frequently, with fewer people covered by employer-sponsored dental benefits, according to a new analysis released by the American Dental Association (ADA).

The research, conducted by the ADA Health Policy Resources Center (HPRC), shows that additional factors in the spending patterns include improvements in oral health, the erosion of benefits provided by state Medicaid programs and fee reductions among many private insurers.

National dental care expenditure reached $111 billion in 2012, roughly the same as the previous year when adjusted for inflation. When population growth is taken into account, dental spending has been flat since 2008. The analysis covers three years of post-Great Recession recovery and it is clear that dental spending is not rebounding.

Overall U.S. health spending during the past four years has grown at the slowest rates ever recorded in the 53-year history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts, reflecting the lagged effects of the recent economic recession. Dental spending, however, began to slow in the early 2000s before the onset of the recession.

The elderly continue to be the age group with the highest level of dental spending, driven primarily by gains in private dental benefits and higher demand for care.

Read the full research brief.

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website