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Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dental care

The importance of good dental care is getting some much-needed attention in Kansas.

March 13, 2012

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Dental care isn’t just a cosmetic issue. It is an important health concern that is drawing needed attention across Kansas.

In an attempt to draw even more attention to the issue, the Kansas Health Foundation is launching a new campaign called “Truth About Teeth.” The Wichita-based foundation plans to use billboards and other advertising to inform Kansans about the state’s dental health.

One billboard will inform people that 58 percent of Kansas third-graders have experienced tooth decay. Other statistics cited by the foundation:

• Kansas hospitals reported more than 17,500 emergency room visits related to dental problems in 2010. (That included 488 ER visits to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.)

• Kansas ranks 18th in the United States for total tooth loss among senior citizens.

• Only 25 percent of Kansas dentists accept patients insured through Medicaid.

• Ninety-three Kansas counties do not have enough dentists to serve their residents and 13 have no dentists at all.

That last statistic was questioned by a local dentist responding to a recent article on the Journal-World’s wellcommons.com website. He noted that Douglas County is among those listed as underserved, which doesn’t make much sense considering the number of dentists who practice in Lawrence. He also noted that the availability of dentists isn’t as big an issue as the lack of dentists who treat Medicaid patients. The number of dentists who provide that care is so low, he said, because of the state’s low reimbursement rates and the burdensome filing requirements for that reimbursement. He also noted that individuals, especially those who know they can’t afford to visit a dentist regularly, need to take responsibility for their own dental health by brushing, flossing and limiting their sugar intake.

Those are all good points. It doesn’t matter if there are more dentists if people can’t afford to visit them. If the state’s current Medicaid rates or paperwork pose a serious impediment to dental care in the state, officials should try to address those issues. The importance of personal responsibility also should be covered in the Kansas Health Foundation’s education campaign. It’s likely that many of the dental-related visits to Kansas emergency rooms could have been avoided by good dental hygiene or a timely visit to a dentist before the problem reached the critical stage. Lawrence is fortunate to have the Douglas County Dental Clinic, which can provide such care to low-income residents.

People have the tendency to think of dental health as being related only to the teeth and gums, but serious dental problems also affect a person’s overall health. Congratulations to the Kansas Health Foundation for putting new emphasis on dental health issues. We hope the foundation’s campaign will spawn many new education and health initiatives to improve dental health across Kansas.

Comments

deec 2 years, 1 month ago

"...moreso than an expensive cell phone, cigarettes, a pantry full of junk food, Starbucks, and a myriad of other daily habits/expenses that add up to thousands of dollars in a year's time. " Alternate, reality-based list of things low income people spend money on instead of buying the good dentist's products: keeping the lights and heat on, putting some milk, rice and beans on the table, paying the rent to avoid homelessness, buying your kids some "new" clothes from the thrift store or Walmart, paying the car insurance so you can drive legally to your low-wage job, buying gasoline for same. I am very, VERY tired of the assumptions of those who have money about what those who don't have money spend their limited funds on. Low income people do not spend thousands of dollars on the frivolities mentioned, because they don't have thousands of dollars to waste. Perhaps the dentist could address the difference in price between what a cash customer and an insured customer pay for the same service at his practice. How much does it cost to have a tooth filled for a cash customer versus an insured customer? What is the negotiated rate with, say, Blue Cross?

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mikekt 2 years, 1 month ago

It's True that infected teeth and gums can seed a blood born infection to the heart valves which happens because the valves in the heart are rough enough in their surfaces that bacteria can stick there and literally cause an infection that causes the vales to leak screwing up how your heart & heart valves work. That's just the truth as i understand it... straight up. If you think that i am kidding you here, ask yourself the Clint Eastwood question "do you feel lucky"? Another good question is can you afford open heart surgery to install one or more artificial valves? The heart has four valves that might not go all at once...so how many surgeries do you prefer to have before you take your dental health seriously? ......And how about those hospital acquired infections that kill people after their successful major surgeries? What a great future! See a dentist. It's cheeper in the long run...even if not free! Open your mouth, count the number of teeth and multiply that times the combined cost of a Root Canal with a Crown (which varies per provider) for each one of them, total that up (which is darned expensive!) and you will discover that your teeth could cost you more than a nice new car would cost, if you ignore them! D.D.S. means Doctor of Dental "Surgery"; or a min. of 8yrs. of higher ed. and possibly 2 more extra yrs. of dentistry if they go thru a full A.E.G.D. (Advanced Education In General Dentistry) program. Add another degree such as an M.D., which takes how many yrs. (?) and they will probably call them an Oral Surgeon (Whatever?!). It all costs! Anyway, expensive time consuming education, expensive office rent & utilities, expensive staff & equipment that is mostly only usable for dentistry, malpractice coverage....and you get the picture of the bill for all of that....... if you fail to take care of your teeth!!! Stop! Pay dentist! Don't buy new car....or whatever??!! Not fun! This is one place where you can save yourself allot of $ costly misery by doing your best to deal with it yourself, daily. Obviously, see your dentist regularly. Lawrence does have a low cost dental clinic if you are poor & need sliding scale. Good luck to You & Yours!

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handley 2 years, 1 month ago

Could it be that insurance companys do not cover dental work

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Resident10 2 years, 1 month ago

There is a long line of very well-qualified young people trying to get into dental school. I think we need to be asking why enrollment to these schools has become so exclusive.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month ago

"It’s likely that many of the dental-related visits to Kansas emergency rooms could have been avoided by good dental hygiene or a timely visit to a dentist before the problem reached the critical stage."

That's a very serious understatement!

Some time ago I read about a financial adviser who helped people with their retirement plans. It sounded odd to some, but one of the first questions he asked his clients was if they flossed regularly. And, if the answer was yes, then he needed to assume that they would live about seven years longer than if they answered no. So, that was a consideration in their financial planning, so that they would not run out of money when they got older.

What many people seem to not be aware of is that the bacteria in between their teeth produce toxins that not only lead to bad breath, but are injurious to health in other ways as well. Heart disease is believed to be one of them.

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/periodontal-disease-heart-health

http://www.realage.com/heart-disease/healthy-teeth-healthy-heart

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500165_162-5056323.html

But, since it appears that Social Security may have financial problems in the future, perhaps it would be wise to not discuss brushing and flossing so much, so that the people who don't do it will die quicker, and thus not deplete the funds available for the people who do take care of their overall health.

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