Did you know the No. 1 reason people don’t visit a dentist in the U.S. is the financial burden? Individuals with dental insurance and those without avoid dental exams because of cost. This unfortunate truth has serious implications for the healthcare system and patients alike.
The state of our oral health impacts our overall health. Advanced gum disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes and a number of other medical issues. Without healthy teeth, individuals can have difficulty chewing and biting, which could result in adverse diet changes and have negative effects on one’s nutrition.
In addition, 30 percent of low-income adults report that their dental condition affects their ability to interview successfully for a job.
While pushes have been made to begin programs that offer individuals various types of dental care, efforts to initiate a nationwide oral health care policy have been minimal.
I have seen firsthand the effects poor dental health can have on an individual’s general health and overall quality of life. Access to dental care should be available for everyone.
To increase awareness of the change our current system needs, I’ve listed my top five reasons for including dental care in our healthcare system.
1. Dental health corresponds to overall health. Early symptoms of various health issues are actually spotted by dentists first, and poor dental health often leads to other health-related complications.
2. Just as they visit a doctor for annual checkups, individuals should schedule regular dental visits. This isn’t the reality for many people who can’t afford to see a dentist regularly.
3. According to Delta Dental, individuals with gum disease are at a greater risk for heart disease than individuals with healthy gums.
4. Prevention is less expensive than treatment. Visiting a dentist twice a year for routine checkups will cost less than treating a mouth full of years of neglect.
5. Oral infections can cause infections elsewhere. Without a strong immune system, oral bacteria in the bloodstream can affect other areas of the body as well. Infective endocarditis, which affects an individual’s heart valves, is one example.
If you have similar thoughts on the lack of dental care in our healthcare system, please contact U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter at 6602 Abercorn Street, Suite 105B Savannah, GA 31405 or at (912) 352-0101.
In the meantime, remember to visit your dentist regularly and practice excellent oral hygiene daily.
Angela Canfield, DDS, is licensed by the Georgia Board of Dentistry and the National Board of Dentists. She owns and practices at two dental offices: Premier Dental Designs in Rincon, Ga., and Sandfly Family Dental in Savannah, Ga. Contact Dr. Canfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-826-4037.