Topic: dental care
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May 11, 2013 at 7:04 AM
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
May 10, 2013 at 7:06 AM
Lack of dental coverage creates problems for families
When adults have limited or no dental coverage, it affects the well-being of their families. That’s one of the reasons the Legislature should fully fund dental coverage for Medicaid-insured, low-income adults [“Fully fund basic dental care,” Opinion, May 7].
As mentioned in the op-ed column, it is important to provide sufficient coverage so that minor problems, such as cavities, get fixed before they become more painful and costly.
When parents have access to dental coverage, they are more likely to ensure that their children also receive dental care. For both kids and adults, oral health is an essential component of overall health. Untreated dental disease can cause intense pain that affects a child’s ability to eat, learn and sleep. Children with dental problems are more likely to miss school and have problems getting good nutrition.
For adults, poor oral health can also negatively impact employability. If parents can’t find a job because they are missing teeth or have other visible dental problems, they may not be able to adequately provide for their children.
As a state, we need to make sure that people have sufficient dental coverage. Let’s ensure that low-income adults can get dental problems addressed so they can take care of their families.
Ben Danielson, medical director, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, Seattle
May 9, 2013 at 6:34 AM
Dental care can save money in the long run
Fred Kiga and Mark Secord say that early dental care can prevent minor problems from turning into serious health issues [“Fully fund basic dental care,” Opinion, May 7]. As a dentist and chief dental officer for United Concordia, I could not agree more.
We recently conducted a study with our parent company Highmark that reveals treating gum disease in individuals with certain chronic conditions can add up to significant health-care savings.
Our study, the largest of its kind, shows annual medical savings of $1,814, $2,956, $1,029 and $3,964 are possible when an individual with diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), or rheumatoid arthritis, respectively, receives and maintains treatment for gum disease.
Today, plenty of research exists showing good oral health plays an important role in overall health. And now, research exists revealing the financial impact of failing to prevent or treat dental disease. Investing in dental wellness should definitely be viewed as investment in everyone’s total health and well-being.
James Bramson, D.D.S., chief dental officer, United Concordia
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