Why oral health matters

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The health of your mouth affects your overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, too many people struggle with oral disease, even though it is almost entirely preventable. Oral health is a social justice issue.

  • Lower-income people and racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have poor oral health.
  • Tooth decay is the number one chronic disease of early childhood. Children can’t sleep, eat, learn or even play, if they are in pain from dental disease.  
  • Poor oral health during pregnancy can affect the health of both mother and baby.
  • Gum disease is an infection linked to other chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 
  • It is difficult for lower-income adults in Washington to find dental care.  In 2016, only 22 percent of Medicaid-insured adults saw a dentist.
  • The health of your mouth is one of most visible indicators of economic inequality. It’s hard to get a job if you’re missing teeth, or keep a job if you’re in pain from oral disease.

Keeping people healthy by preventing disease saves money for families, businesses and taxpayers.  It’s the right thing to do because everyone deserves good health.