Advocacy to Expand Access
Ensure those with the greatest risk of oral disease receive the care they need
We need your help. Too many people are suffering from oral disease even though it is almost totally preventable. It causes such pain that people miss work and school. Untreated, its consequences include malnutrition, diabetes complications, and increased risk for poor birth outcomes. It interferes with learning, sleeping and the ability to get a job.
Lower-income people and people of color suffer from oral disease at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the population.
We need your voice to let policymakers know that the current situation is unacceptable. Go to OralHealthWatch.org and join the growing number of people and organizations in Washington who are taking a stand against oral health disparities. Join our movement for health equity.
Oral health is essential to overall health
Everyone should have access to good oral health care because it is essential to overall health. Oral disease is linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and pregnancy complications.
Lower-income people, those living in rural communities, and communities of color often struggle to access dental care. Some seek expensive emergency room care that might temporarily address their pain, but not their disease. Emergency rooms aren’t equipped to treat underlying dental problems. The results are higher healthcare costs and worse health outcomes.
Expanding dental coverage helps keep people healthy
There are not enough dental providers to treat the more than one million lower-income adults in Washington with dental coverage through Apple Health (Medicaid). In 2016, only 22 percent of Medicaid-insured adults saw a dentist. A recent statewide survey showed that 1 in 6 third graders suffers from rampant decay (rampant decay in 7 or more teeth). Early intervention and treatment are essential.
- Through advocacy, outreach and organizing we are pushing for oral health policies that will reduce health disparities – saving money for families, business and taxpayers. We organized Oral Health Watch, a coalition of dental, medical, business, labor, children’s and seniors’ groups, to build support for policies that promote prevention, access, and early treatment.
- In 2014, Oral Health Watch helped restore dental coverage through Apple Health for lower-income adults in Washington. We continue to work on improvements to Apple Health so it works better for individuals, dental providers, and the state.
- In 2007, we worked with a coalition of children’s health advocates to pass legislation providing Apple Health reimbursements to physicians trained to deliver oral health preventive services to low-income children. Statewide we have trained nearly 45 percent of physicians who care for young children.
- We work to protect enhanced reimbursements for dentists certified to provide care to lower-income children up to age 6 through the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program. As a result of ABCD, the percentage of Medicaid-insured young children with a dental visit has doubled in the last ten years. Washington is a national leader in providing preventive dental care for lower-income children.