We believe that effective oral health education and advocacy will assist in influencing policy makers, other leaders, and the public’s view of oral health.
Since the release of the US Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in 2000, research has detailed how oral health is integral to every individuals’ general health. Not only is good dental health important for chewing and swallowing food, speaking, and impacting self-esteem, self-image and quality of life as well as employability; research has documented an integral relationship between poor oral health and chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, bacterial pneumonia and the pre-term delivery of babies.
In addition, research has documented that poor oral health impacts a child’s performance in school – their ability to concentrate and learn along with missed school hours for dental care. In the same vein, it has demonstrated an impact on the economy, not just with the higher costs of treating dental disease, but in 164 million lost work hours annually for the employee and productivity for the employer.
Research, observations and reports also show that Nevadans of every age suffer from poor oral health.
Policy Priority #1
The state dental health officer and state public health dental hygienist positions within the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services must be filled and funded with state dollars.
UPDATE: On June 1, 2015, the Nevada Legislature ended its 78th session. Included in the state’s record $7.3 million two- year general fund spending plan was funding for the state dental officer and the state public health dental hygienist positions, in addition to some funds to operate the state’s oral health program. This funding will be available in FY17. The inclusion of funds to support these two positions demonstrates resurgence in the state’s commitment to promote and protect the dental health of all Nevadans.
Policy Priority #2
Phasing in of dental care – both preventive and treatment services for Medicaid-eligible adult Nevadans.
- Currently in Nevada, Medicaid includes preventive and restorative dental care for children up to the age of 21 and only limited emergency dental services for adults – those 21 years of age and older. More and more adults are seeking care at hospital emergency rooms which usually do not employ dentists. Not only are these residents just receiving emergent temporary care – usually antibiotics and maybe some pain medication, the cost of this limited treatment to Nevadans is astronomical. For the number of dental related ER visits in 2013, the cost to Nevadans was over $12 million, with no long-term treatment provided with residents continuing to experience pain and suffering. This is wasteful spending!
- Every Nevada resident would benefit from expanding dental services for Medicaid-eligible adults. The expansion would bring federal dollars back to our state in matching funds, allowing for the application of this money to pay for needed dental care in appropriate dental settings, eliminating the expensive and ineffective use of hospital emergency rooms.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, Medicaid dental benefits for those residents 21 and over were not changed. The expansion of Medicaid Dental Benefits to include preventive and restorative services remains a priority.