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Regular Dental Visits May Save Your Life

Going to the dentist is critical not only for oral health but for overall wellbeing. While not required by federal law, getting dental insurance through a private employer, Medicaid, or Medicare can be a wise choice for your health and longevity.

What coverage gets you

According to the National Association of Dental Plans, an estimated 74 million Americans had no dental coverage in 2016 — and those who have dental coverage are more likely to visit the dentist. Yet individuals who do not go to the dentist are more likely to need tooth extractions and dentures, and less likely to receive oral treatments for gum disease and restorative care, for example.

The Mayo Clinic said that oral health can be “a window to your overall health.” The inflammation tied to gum disease may play a role in your risk for conditions including heart disease, pneumonia, and pregnancy complications. Osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease may also affect oral health.

Not to be left unwatched

According to 2013-2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 17 percent of people ages 5 to 19 and about 32 percent of those ages 20 to 44 had untreated dental cavities.  

The American Dental Association noted that about half of people ages 2 to 18 have dental coverage via private insurance, while about 40 percent do through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Meanwhile, about 10 percent are dentally uninsured.

Among those ages 19 to 64, 59 percent have dental insurance through private plans and about seven percent do via Medicaid, whereas about 34 percent are dentally uninsured. Most dentists recommend a regular check-up every six months. Even if this care is unaffordable, the Mayo Clinic recommended caring for your oral health by taking steps such as brushing teeth at least two times per day, flossing daily, avoiding tobacco, and limiting added sugar in your diet.

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