Oral health strategies on State Board of Health’s November agenda

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Recommended oral health strategies that will help improve the health of Washington residents will be the subject of a public presentation Wednesday, Nov. 13. 2013 in SeaTac when the State Board of Health meets.

Although preventable, dental disease is costly, painful, debilitating and widespread in Washington State.

Dental disease is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Untreated it can cause intense pain that affects a child’s ability to eat, get enough sleep, pay attention and sit in class. Nationally, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness.

For adults, untreated dental disease can result in many issues that can impact the quality of life such as pain, poor nutrition, and social. Older adults are particularly at risk due to taking multiple medications that cause dry mouth and lead to tooth decay. 

Poor dental health is costly for Washington residents. According to a 2010 report by the Washington State Hospital Association, dental complaints were the number one  reason uninsured adults visited emergency rooms, costing over $36 million in an 18-month period. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work nationally due to dental health problems.

Strategies that prevent and treat dental disease improve oral health and save money. For example, providing dental treatment to people with diabetes reduces hospitalizations by 61 percent in the first year of treatment and reduces medical costs on average $3,200 per year.

The board convened two expert oral-health advisory groups to develop seven strategic recommendations that address a wide range of oral health strategies ranging from policy development to project implementation. At the November meeting the board may endorse the recommended strategies to improve the oral health of Washington residents.


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