Archive for July, 2011

New Report: Advancing Oral Health in America

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The U.S. surgeon general issued a landmark report in 2000, Oral Health in America, which described the poor oral health of our nation as a “silent epidemic.” While there have been notable improvements in the oral health of Americans, oral diseases remain prevalent across the country, posing a major challenge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Evidence shows that tooth decay and other oral health complications may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. While tooth decay is a highly preventable disease, individuals and many healthcare professionals remain unaware of the risk factors and preventive approaches for many oral diseases, and they do not fully appreciate how oral health affects overall health and well-being.

In 2009, the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) asked the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) to assess the current oral health care system and to recommend strategic actions for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to improve oral health and oral health care in America. The IOM convened a committee to explore how HHS can enhance its role as a leader in improving the oral health and oral health care of the nation. In this April 2011 report, the IOM recommends that HHS design an oral health initiative consistent with IOM’s proposed set of organizing principles, which are based on the areas in greatest need of attention and on the approaches that have the most potential for creating improvements. In addition, the IOM stresses three key areas needed for successfully maintaining oral health as a priority issue: strong leadership, sustained interest, and the involvement of multiple stakeholders.

Click here for the 2011 Report.

A Personal Story: Even with Insurance – Michael, White River Junction

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Michael lives in White River Junction, Vermont, and has dental insurance through work. He needed a crown, and when he paid for it he met the $1,200 limit of his insurance. “I was in pain, and I needed another crown…” so he went ahead and got a second crown. Now he has a bill for $1,200 that he can’t pay. He’s cancelled his upcoming teeth cleaning appointment, though he sees the importance of preventative care in avoiding the need for future dental work, because he just can’t afford it on top of the dental bill he still hasn’t been able to pay.

A Personal Story: Pain and Discomfort – Lillian, West Lebanon

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Lillian lives in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Now 63, Lillian got gum disease and had to have her teeth removed when she was in her early 50s. The dentures she got to replace her teeth fit well, originally. But the original dentures have aged and worn down with time, Lillian’s gums have changed, and the dentures have never been re-adjusted. [It is recommended that most dentures be replaced every 5-7 years.] Lillian can’t use adhesive anymore because her gums are very sensitive and the adhesive bothers them. But she can’t go without the dentures, because then she won’t be able to eat. ‘“My dentures are now worn down in the back where I don’t have cutting teeth, so even with them there are things that I just can’t eat anymore…and  they get in the way of my speech a little bit.” She has no resources to replace her dentures, so she simply lives with the pain and discomfort.

A Personal Story: Unemployed and Worried – Geoff, Norwich

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Geoff is currently unemployed and living in Norwich, Vermont. He hasn’t been to the dentist in 2 years – not since he was employed and had dental insurance. “I’d like to get my usual check-up, like when I had insurance to cover it. But I can’t afford it. If the dentists would only do it for free!”

A Personal Story: No Teeth; No Dentures – Paul, Wilder

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Paul lives in Wilder, Vermont. In 1997, Paul broke his neck. Unfortunately, no one knew it was broken for a while so Paul kept working. Now he is permanently disabled. His teeth needed to be removed. Medicare covered a set of dentures back then, but they were made wrong and they’ve never fit right, so he’s never been able to wear them. He’s been without teeth ever since.

A Personal Story: No Proud Smile – Joan, Plainfield

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Joan lives in Plainfield, New Hampshire. This is her story:

It has been over 10 years since I have been able to go to the dentist due to no insurance and the cost of dental care. I have broken teeth in the back as well as a bunch of cavities. I am able to get my health care needs taken care of by a local medical clinic, but I don’t live in an area with access to a dental clinic. Since I have no dependent children, I am unable to get any help from the state of New Hampshire.

Oh, what I would give to be able to get my teeth fixed! And to be proud of my smile. I withdraw from showing my teeth when I smile because of the cavities in my front teeth.

I am an unpaid worker for an older man who supplies me with room and board in exchange for taking care of his home and errands. He pays for my medicines, as I am able to get the $10.00 prescription plan at Walmart.

A Personal Story: Stuck in the Middle – Alice, Quechee

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Alice lives in Quechee, Vermont. This is her story:

I have an upper plate and it broke all of my bottom teeth. They are so bad and have decay and I have no insurance. I have to live with it. My husband and I make too much money to get any help, but not enough to fix them.