When oral health is left out of coverage and care, the whole body suffers.
Poor oral health is linked to diabetes, heart disease, even lost school and work hours and reduced quality of life. Yet, millions of Americans do not have access to oral health coverage and cannot afford the care they need. Oral health coverage is excluded from Medicare and often left out of state Medicaid programs.
Oral health coverage needs to be expanded to those who need it most.
Approximately 106 million people in the United States have no oral health coverage, including 1 in 10 children, 2 in 5 adults, and 3 in 5 seniors. This lack of coverage is a major problem for low-income people, who often can’t afford to pay out of pocket for their oral health care. Low-income people are 40 percent less likely than those with higher incomes to have visited the dentist in the past 12 months. 42 percent of low-income people have untreated tooth decay, compared with 12 percent of Americans with higher incomes.
As health advocates, we are standing up for oral health for all.
Although there is a clear need to expand oral health coverage, this issue is not currently on the political policymaking agenda in any significant way. That must change.