February is Children’s Dental Health Month—the perfect time to raise awareness about the importance of oral health and the work that remains to ensure that all children have access to high-quality, affordable dental coverage and care. Congress, state lawmakers, and regulators can make progress on some of the nation’s most pressing children’s dental health issues by following the recommendations we discuss here.
Dr. Mary Williard, a mother and a dentist working in Alaska Native communities, describes how our broken dental care system brought her adopted daughter into her life for the first time. And, how an innovation she has made her life's work could change the way we provide dental care to the millions in the United States, like her daughter, who have suffered without it.
In just 10 years, dental therapists in Alaska have been able to expand dental care to 40,000 people here who couldn’t get that care before. They are so effective because they work with dentists as part of a team to bring dental care to communities that dentists can’t get to very often.
Lack of access to dental care is a significant problem in American health care. Last week, USA Today reported that the number of adults seeking help in the emergency room for “long-delayed dental care” has doubled since 2000. This finding highlights data we released in May showing that dental care is one of the most persistent unmet health care needs for many adults.
Despite some improvements since a landmark Surgeon General’s report in 2000, unacceptable numbers of adults across all income levels suffer from dental problems that degrade their quality of life, and it is cost that prevents them from getting the care they need.
Despite a divided Congress in Washington, many state policymakers around the country, supported by advocates, reached across the aisle to make needed improvements to the health care system.
Governors, lawmakers, and regulators made strides to expand health coverage, protect consumers in the insurance market, and address rising prescription drug prices. Here are some of the highlights of the 2016 sessions through June 1 and the Families USA allies whose advocacy was critical to making them happen.
Oral health care is vital to a child’s overall health. This summer, the U.S. Treasury Department proposed a change in the rules for premium tax credits that, if adopted, will make children’s dental care more affordable.
Millions of people in this country face significant barriers to obtaining the basic dental care they need to achieve good oral health. As a result, more than half of people in the U.S. go without any dental care each year, and many struggle with untreated dental disease that can have far-reaching, serious effects on their overall health.
Former U.S. surgeon generals refer to oral disease as a “silent epidemic” affecting some of our most vulnerable citizens.
People who lack coverage for oral health care are likely to forego preventive care, get cavities, lose teeth, and suffer from periodontal disease. This can exacerbate other chronic and acute illnesses people may be experiencing.
Millions of adults lack coverage for oral health care and cannot afford to pay for needed care on their own. States can make a difference by covering extensive oral health benefits in their Medicaid programs.
Even as healthcare has become a politically charged issue this year, we’ve seen oral health advocates work diligently and some states make progress to improve oral health benefits in their Medicaid programs. This week, with overwhelming bipartisan support, Maryland became the latest state to authorize a dental benefit for adults in its Medicaid program.