From Port Angeles to Pasco, from Walla Walla to Westport, too many of our most vulnerable neighbors are not getting the dental care they need.
When kids have untreated cavities, they spend their time in school dealing with their pain, not paying attention to their teacher. When adults have toothaches and infections, they miss work. For adults who have lost teeth to decay, it can be nearly impossible to find a decent job. Seniors often suffer silently, while oral health problems worsen and make them sick. In many of our communities, our emergency rooms are left to provide expensive, stop-gap care that treats the symptoms, and not the cause of the problem.
Last year, the state took great strides forward in providing insurance for more than 700,000 people in need.
But coverage alone will not transform our broken dental health care system into one that serves us well.
The Children’s Alliance and 65 other organizations are calling on state leaders to act on recommendations by the Washington State Board of Health to improve oral health care for everyone in Washington state. We delivered this call to Gov. Jay Inslee on Feb. 3, Have a Heart for Kids Day (right).
Many of the letter’s signers are organizations that bear witness to the disparity in care on a daily basis: the American Indian Health Commission of Washington, the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers, the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Washington Dental Service Foundation and the Washington State Dental Hygienists’ Association.
This unity is inspiring. Together, with a focus on the gaps in care, we can move toward a time when everyone has the oral health care they need for overall health.