The Wall Street Journal sheds new light on the connection between oral health and overall health in a new story about how signs in your mouth can indicate broader health problems.
“Some of the earliest signs of diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, immune disorders, hormone imbalances and drug issues show up in the gums, teeth and tongue – sometimes long before a patient knows anything is wrong,” the newspaper reports in “If Your Teeth Could Talk.”
“There’s also growing evidence that oral health problems, particularly gum disease, can harm a patient’s general health as well, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and pregnancy complications.”
The link between dental health and general health means dentists are playing a larger role in patients’ overall health, and physicians are becoming more involved in monitoring oral health. It is also one reason why parents should ask their pediatrician to screen their child’s teeth during well-child checkups.
This is why dental care for vulnerable adults must be preserved. Thousands of low-income people in Washington already lost dental coverage due to budget cuts in recent years. This winter, the legislature will consider cutting even deeper by eliminating dental coverage for pregnant women, developmentally disabled adults and elderly residents of nursing homes.
Overall, more than 38,000 low-income vulnerable adults would lose critical oral health care. A lack of proper dental care causes and complicates other illnesses that are costly to treat and result in unnecessary pain and suffering.
Protecting the oral and overall health of vulnerable people in our state saves money. It is also the right thing to do.