Lack of Dental Insurance Sited as Reason for Poor Oral Health

Individual or Family Health
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Dental Insurance Oral Health

If you are a regular reader then you have heard a lot about the 47 million Americans without any kind of health insurance. A serious problem to be sure. But did you also know that according to the Surgeon General there are over 110 million Americans without dental insurance? And most of these are the poor and the elderly, the very population most at risk for severe oral health problems.

According to Surgeon Generals report which was started in 1997 and released recently, Oral Health is something that should be taken very seriously. Oral health is not only about tooth decay. Infections and other oral disease can have a significant impact in overall health. For those without dental insurance these problems can grow. Chronic mouth infections have been proven to contribute to diabetes, heart disease, even low birth-weight babies. The incidences of these conditions are much greater among those living below the poverty level, and the survey suggests oral health may be one of the reasons why. The study pointed out the large disparity between affluent and poor families when it comes to dental care. Children of poor families suffer twice as many cavities as those of higher income families, and more than 25% of poor children have not seen a dentist at all before entering kindergarten.

The survey went on to point out that regardless of the income level having medical insurance that includes a dental plan, influences how often a parent will seek dental care for their children. Uninsured children are almost three times less likely to see a dentist then those with dental insurance. The survey found that for each child that has medical insurance there are almost three children without dental insurance. State run programs like CHIP and Medicaid do not always provide for gaps in dental coverage.

Yet private dental insurance or dental discount plans are not as prohibitively expensive as one might think. And an investment in private dental insurance or a dental discount plan is really an investment in ones overall health. Today, many of the providers of such plans are offering community outreach and other oral health programs in the poor communities with limited access to dental care to help fight what the Surgeon General's report has called a "Silent Epidemic" in these communities.