The U.S. is facing a "dental crisis" and needs to increase access to dental care, according to a report released on Wednesday by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The report, which Sanders presented to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, found that more than 130 million U.S. residents lack dental insurance, more than 47 million live in areas with limited access to dental care, and just 45% of U.S. residents ages two and older went to a dental office in the previous year.
The report notes that poor dental health can increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
According to the report, lawmakers should enact provisions to help increase the number of dental providers and expand Medicaid's dental coverage to include adults. Sanders also recommended including oral health care programs in the federal health reform law and increasing payment rates to motivate dentists to accept Medicaid (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/29; Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 2/29 [subscription required]).