A recent Washington Post article, “The Painful Truth About Teeth: You Can Work Full Time But not have the Money to Fix Your Teeth – Visible Reminders of the Divide Between Rich and Poor” outlines the devastating impacts of the lack of adequate oral health care in the country.
As Congress considers drastic cuts to Medicaid through the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would make it difficult for states to provide adequate funding for dental care, it is essential that lawmakers consider the implications of these changes.
The Washington Post article highlights the following:
- Medicare does not have a comprehensive oral health benefit
- Two million ER visits in 2016 for dental issues
- $1.6 billion in costs for those ER visits
- Those ER visits frequently lead to prescriptions for antibiotics and opioids instead of treating the underlying dental issue, only perpetuating the opioid crisis
- One in five Americans over 65 do not have a single real tooth left
- Link between oral health and overall health: “Poor oral health can lead to heart disease and other serious medical problems, and tooth loss can lead to depression and difficulty eating and speaking”
The article is available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2017/05/13/the-painful-truth-about-teeth/?utm_term=.760721416050
More information on the Center’s work on oral health available at: https://www.medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-info/dental-coverage-under-medicare