The debate over “Medicare for All” has sucked the oxygen from many other important health policy issues. Though 28 million Americans lack health insurance in the United States, there is an untold crisis of more than four times that population — 114 million Americans — without dental coverage.
Millions of Americans are suffering from decaying teeth, gum disease, and chronic pain. Yet, in the Democratic presidential debates thus far, barely a word has been spoken about this crisis. When we spend so much time talking about health care, why is oral health so easy to ignore?
Oral health affects overall health. The consequences of untreated decay and periodontal disease – slowly destructive gum infections – include increased risk of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and premature births. Yet, almost two-thirds of Medicare enrollees, a quarter of children, and 40 percent of adults under the age of 65 don’t have dental coverage.
Read the full op-ed here.