The Grand Canyons

When Oral Care Does Not Care

Posted In Talking Points - By The Grand Canyons on Monday, January 18th, 2016 With No Comments »

Oral CareA Bremerton woman has been bearing the pain of an abscessed tooth for months. She relieves it by routinely stabbing the tooth with a safety pin until it swelled. The woman, Natasha Fecteau, has a low-cost dental insurance, which many dentists rejected. This shows that a dental insurance does not necessarily ensure dental care.

Fecteau was not able to have any dental procedures done until it was too late. A molar had to be pulled out to relieve her long term pain. The lack of immediate attention to dental problems is, in part, because of money. Patients have dental insurance that barely covers dental procedure costs. Dentists, on the other hand, have low insurance fees and low reimbursements. Fortunately, services like edentalmarket.com teach dentists to negotiate dental PPO reimbursements. But, this is just one side of the problem.

Oral problems heighten the risk of more serious health problems. If left unattended, they may lead to diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. If the poor already do not have access to oral care, how will they be able to afford treatment for costlier diseases? A report cites that millions of Americans go without dental visits every year. Although more than one million Washington residents have dental insurance, the lack of access to oral care is still a prevailing problem.

State legislators have recommended that insurance reimbursements be increased. Corporate dentists, however, do not agree with the suggestion. Health advocates have also been pushing for the use of dental therapists, who serve as assistants to the dentist. Therapists know how to perform basic dental procedures such as filling cavities and cleaning the teeth. While this may alleviate the lack of immediate attention, some say that it is not enough to solve the problem. Therapists are not trained to perform more complex dental procedures. If patients have more serious problems, they may not be able to help anyway.

Adding to the money issue are the dentists, who dental consultancy firm head Marc Cooper describes as, “profit-driven.” Many of them believe that therapists are just for rural areas, and are not open to creating mid-dental professions.

The issue of lack of oral care cannot be solved with just money alone. Employing more people to do the job may prevent the problem from growing, to a certain extent. But, apart from money and manpower, a change of attitude must also ensue. Oral care is not called oral care for it to deny anyone with much-needed dental health attention. Oral care is called oral care for it to be given to those who need it.