Do you consider going to the dentist an experience one could only loathe? Or is it an opportunity you merely dream of having? Many people take for granted cleanings, fillings and other vital dental care, while others live in pain for years. Last week, the Legislature’s Committee on Health and Human Services heeded Mainers’ personal testimonies in support of L.D. 1453, An Act to Improve Dental Health for Maine Children and Adults with Low Incomes.

Currently, adults with MaineCare only receive emergency dental care to eliminate severe pain, treat oral infections, and prevent tooth loss. Treatment is often provided in Maine’s emergency departments, which are becoming increasingly scarce and overburdened. L.D. 1453 would ensure that adults with low incomes receive comprehensive preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental services that are necessary to maintain both their oral and overall health.

Poor oral health is linked to chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Dental care should not be considered less important than other types of health care. There is no reason why health insurance should cover every part of the body except the mouth. Poor oral health also restricts one’s confidence and employability.

The federal government does not require states to provide dental care to adults who receive Medicaid. However, 33 states have made the decision to offer coverage that extends beyond emergency care. They have recognized the impact that dental care can have on their residents’ health and quality of life. It is time for Maine to do the same.

Dental care is health care.

 

Katrina Mercer

Bangor


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