MOORE — During a time when many people find themselves out of work, experiencing financial hardship, or without general health insurance, Oklahomans of all ages are living without routine dental care. While this might not seem alarming to some, regular dental hygiene visits can be the first step in preventive treatment of future health issues throughout the entire body.
Access to dental insurance is a major factor when determining the affordability of preventative oral exams. In 2011, Oklahoma ranked 50th in the nation of adults with at least one dental visit in the last year. Lack of coverage plays a role in this ranking, which not only affects adults, but children, too. While nine million children in the United States do not have medical insurance, the number skyrockets to 23 million children without dental insurance. Additionally, for every adult 19 years or older with medical insurance, there are three without dental insurance.
Oral health issues can affect anyone at anytime, but especially impact low-income individuals and families with children. Nearly 25 percent of all families with children in central Oklahoma survive on a household income of $22,811 or less. When making the critical choices between household expenses, food, and transportation, preventative care services are often neglected. A trip to the emergency room for crisis dental care is the first “dental visit” for over 25 percent of all children seen in a children’s hospital. Creating healthy habits early in life is imperative to continuing those habits into adulthood.
Healthy Citizens is a core focus area at United Way of Central Oklahoma. Your donor dollars help fund Partner Agency programs that not only provide quality care, but also eliminate barriers to access care. These programs help remove transportation barriers to receive treatment (especially for elderly and disabled citizens), and promote healthy lifestyles by educating citizens on the importance of taking a proactive approach to health.
For more information about United Way of Central Oklahoma, visit www.unitedwayokc.org or contact 236-8441.