Increasing oral health care access saves money, improves overall health – Oral Health Watch

State legislators are considering an investment in improving oral health care access for low-income pregnant women and diabetes patients to improve their overall health and provide substantial savings through lower health care costs.

Countless studies underscore the connection between oral health and overall health. Now researchers are confirming what many have suspected all along: that in addition to improved health, good oral health also helps reduce overall medical costs. A study by United Concordia found that pregnant women and diabetes patients saw improved outcomes and lower health care costs when their gum disease was treated.

“If you have a chronic condition such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and/or are pregnant, it’s more important than ever to keep up with consistent oral care at home and see your dentist,” the United Concordia study stated. Oral disease has been linked to complications related to pregnancy and diabetes management.

Lower income adults frequently have difficulty finding a dentist who accepts Apple Health (Medicaid). Lawmakers are looking into enhancing Medicaid reimbursement rates to entice more dentists to treat lower income pregnant women and people with diabetes.

The expectation is that the enhanced rates would provide for more preventive oral health treatment for pregnant women and diabetic patients before more serious complications develop, and would also result in an estimated $28 million in medical cost savings over the biennium.

Oral Health Watch supports enhanced rates for pregnant women and people with diabetes because it is a smart, money-saving solution that will help lead to tangible improvements in oral and overall health.

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Oral Health Watch does not provide dental care and cannot provide direct referrals. To find dental care in your area, please visit our resources page. Please contact Oral Health Watch for more information about our programs and oral health in Washington State