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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 11, 2013 at 7:04 AM

State-funded dental care

Treat dental problems early by providing basic care

I just finished reading the op-ed by Fred Kiga and Mark Secord and could not agree more [“Fully fund basic dental care,” Opinion, May 7].

In our clinic, we see patients every day who are suffering from untreated dental disease. It’s tragic and unnecessary because the majority of dental disease is preventable if patients have access to early intervention. However, when more complicated dental problems occur, it’s important to treat them before they lead to serious health complications. That’s why the Legislature should fully fund comprehensive dental coverage for all low-income adults who depend on Medicaid for their health insurance.

It makes sense to treat dental problems early. Cavities generally start small, but over time become much more difficult and expensive to treat. Today, many people without access to dental care seek relief from their pain in emergency rooms, which adds unnecessary costs and does nothing to get to the root of the patient’s dental problem.

Untreated dental problems can be very painful and contribute to other serious health issues. For people with diabetes, untreated oral disease can make it difficult to control blood sugar, which can lead to devastating complications, including loss of vision, kidney disease, amputation and heart disease.

Fully funding dental coverage for low-income adults reduces costs by providing early intervention. Providing dental care at the right time in the right setting is a good investment.

Marcia Wharton, medical director, Providence Everett Healthcare Clinic, Everett

Comments | More in Health care | Topics: dental care, health care

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