Why isn’t dental care treated like health care?

I just read an Issue Brief put out by Justice in Aging, July 2016, titled: Oral Health in California: What About Older Adults?

http://www.justiceinaging.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Oral-Health-in-CA_What-About-Older-Adults.pdf

What struck me was this sentence:

“Poor oral health also leads to increased infections, which early research associates with higher risk for heart and lung disease, suffering a stroke, and experiencing diabetic complications.”

Man, that’s a lot riding on the need for routine dental care.

I have a client who couldn’t afford the $10,000 price tag for extended dental care several years ago, so many of her teeth were removed and she got a partial denture made. Now it doesn’t fit well and moves around in her mouth. She is embarrassed, rarely goes out now and it affects her speech. She doesn’t care to smile either.

After weeks of arranging for her to see a dentist at a Denti-Cal Clinic which provides services for low income individuals, we learned that they only cover the basics of cleanings, x-rays, exams and fillings. My client needs way more than that.

If people need a bridge, crown, or partial dentures they are referred to a dental school in San Francisco, which will do the work at reduced rate.

What?!?!

How can an ill, elderly person drive to SF repeatedly for dental work? That’s 40 miles away and tons of traffic, bridge fair, parking…

Dental care costs a lot of money, money people on fixed incomes don’t have!

I have another client who needed a front tooth filled. The filling plus an x-ray, cost over $300, with a senior discount!

I agree with this Issue Brief that we have got to make Denti-Cal more easy to use and comprehensive for meeting low income people’s needs.

Dental care should be on a parity with health care and it’s not. It’s not a luxury to have teeth work! It’s a basic health need.

Listen to this podcast I did on dental care for more info: https://callkira.com/radio-shows/caregiving-family-relationships/getting-mom-to-a-dentist/