Oral healthcare providers must make some noise as we know what we do makes a difference. We see how a person’s smile will widen and their face brighten when their teeth and gums are clean and healthy. We also know we cannot perform these much-needed services if those who need them the most cannot afford to get to the dental office for care.
Maybe it should not be this way, but when we smile or speak, the mouth is the first thing people see. How many times have you stood in the grocery store line and looked at the pictures of the movie stars? Have you ever noticed their gums and teeth? What if their gums were red and swollen? What if they had a cavity we could see in the photo?
Is it unfair to judge someone for the way their teeth and gums look? Yes. I sometimes call it an “American thing”. We do tend to focus on our looks here in the USA. But healthy teeth and gums are more than skin deep. They are more important than the right shoes, shirt, or hairdo.
Infected teeth and gums are just that, the results of an infection in your body. You would probably no sooner say “oh well” and avoid brushing your hair if your scalp bled every time you ran a brush through it. You would know that was not normal. Please think of your gums the same way.
The mouth is the opening to the body. All our sustenance gets into our bodies through our mouths. We need our teeth and gums to be healthy. As a dental hygienist, I would love to see every person with teeth come regularly to get their teeth cleaned and gum health maintained. I know it is expensive. But I also know good oral health is the best foundation for good general health.
So what does all this have to do with making noise? May is Older Americans Month. I was reminded this morning when I read the Insurance Commissioner, who is running for reelection in California next month, is having a webinar to celebrate older Americans tomorrow, May 24. By the time you read this, that date will have passed, but there will be others.
What exactly is there to celebrate? I had to ask myself. Older Americans commonly have no dental insurance and less disposable income than younger Americans. This makes getting to the dental office for preventive dental care – a visit with the dental hygienist – more difficult and in some cases, impossible.
Many of the older people I am talking about probably had jobs where they never had dental insurance. This means that those who have worked the hardest for the least amount of pay probably have the most need for dental care. If you have medical insurance that insurance should cover all of your body, and that includes your mouth.
If you are not currently an older American, you will be one someday. Make some noise. Email or call your elected officials, state and local. Let them know you want them to support the addition of dental benefits to Medicare. Let them know you are here.
All our elected officials need our votes. I will save the “register to vote” lecture for another time. I believe that even if you don’t vote, the officials who represent the area where you live still work for you. Email Insurance Commissioner Lara http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0500-about-us/01-commissioner/index.cfm.
¡El habla español, tambien! Puede escribir en su idoma.