It Is Time To Make Oral Health An Integral Part Of Primary Care

While health care experts and health philanthropy are becoming increasingly aware that oral health is essential for healthy development and healthy aging, nationwide, there remains an unacceptably high burden of oral disease. Dental caries is the most common chronic disease of childhood. In other words, more kids suffer from a completely preventable disease of the mouth than any other chronic condition.

Adults aren’t faring much better: One quarter of adults has untreated dental caries, and a fifth of adults have destructive periodontal disease, which can result in pain, tooth loss, and systemic infection. 

A person’s oral health impacts their overall health and their quality of life. Patients with a chronic disease, such as diabetes, are both at increased risk for oral complications and for adverse health outcomes if their oral complications go untreated. Late-stage oral disease results in a substantial amount of wasteful health care spending. Medications used to treat many mental health conditions have a significant impact on production of saliva, and that can negatively impact oral health. Moreover, a series of intriguing new reports (we link to just one example here) demonstrate the potential for savings in total health care costs across a spectrum of health conditions with the successful treatment of periodontal disease. This is an example of the potential benefits of addressing oral disease.

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