The CDC reports that 25% of seniors over 65 have no teeth at all. This is part of a national disaster.
You would think that our teeth were not a part of us. Health care insurance does not cover them. Medicare doesn’t either. Have a toenail removed and it’s covered. Have a tooth removed and you are on your own.
There are dental insurances, but their coverage is very limited. Almost all dental work has to be paid out of pocket. Paying for dental work can hurt more than the work! At least you can have anesthesia for the dental work!
The uninsured high costs of dental work cause neglect. This leads to more tooth decay, lost teeth, gum disease and no teeth. It also can cause financial hardship and bankruptcy. Cost may prevent work from being done at all.
Dental problems are only the tip of the iceberg. Germs in and around our teeth can spread into other parts of our body. Abscess teeth and heart infection can be fatal. Poor chewing can cause malnutrition and weakening of the immune system. This raises the probability for more illnesses.
“Research has shown that infections in the mouth may be associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and other health problems that are common in older adults.”
The ADA further states: “Nearly one in five (18 percent) lower-income adults have reported that they or a household member has sought treatment for dental pain in an emergency room at some point in their lives, … Only six percent of those low-income adults who went to the ER reported that the problem was solved in the ER.”
The utilization of emergency departments for dental conditions burdens the hospital, drains resources and becomes a cycle of care that does not treat and solve the underlying patient problem.
Imagine the healthcare bill for this that we end out paying for indirectly in health insurance premiums for just these visits and they do no good. This does not include the ER visits for illnesses down stream in the body from spreading of oral infection to the heart and elsewhere.
Healthcare insurance should include dental issues. The costs would be offset by reduced illnesses downstream.
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