Here we are post-election. There's no doubt that Obama-Care is going to be the law of the land. On one hand I am thrilled that more people in this great nation are now going to have access to much needed health care. If successful, we should be "healthier" as a nation.
So what determines "healthier". Our health care system as it stands is based on a reactionary model. in other words if we get sick we go see a doctor, who then does what it takes to make us better. In my world that usually means, someone who has not seen a dentist in years wakes up one morning with a toothache and we get a call. When I ask, nine out of ten times the reason for not coming sooner is because they didn't have dental insurance.
It's interesting then with all the sweeping changes of Obama-Care, adult dental care will basically be the same as before. So I figure the government does not view oral health as all that important. Yet I know as a practicing dentist that this view is just not true.
The US Sergeant General, and The CDC in Washington, have issued statements which base good overall health and well being on good oral health. I have seen in my practice that patients who achieve and maintain good oral health are generally healthy. As a matter of fact the main emphasis I place is helping my patients achieve healthy teeth and gums. Not just preventive care, teaching my patients to be more vigilant when it comes to taking responsibility for their health care needs.
We succeed because my staff and I take the time to build relationships with our patients. They in turn know that we care for them as people. As in a caring family, when people are cared for, they naturally want to care for themselves as well. For many folks in this nation the dentist is one of their first experiences with the health care system.
It makes sense then to include adult dental care in your health care system if you want to encourage healthy lifestyles. Diseases of the mouth are treatable, and those who take advantage of modern day dental care are predictably healthier.
I wonder if Obama-Care while providing greater access to health care will also foster an environment where people will be motivated to pursue a healthier existance. Or will the government feel the need to legislate a "punishment/reward system for those who comply.
Keeping adult oral health benefits out of the equation doesn't seem to me to be a good first step. If we as a nation are to become healthier we need to shift the health care model from reactionary to proaction. I believe Dentists who provide personalized, highly effective treatment choices should be at the forefront of this movement.
Dr Kurt Froehlich is a Dentist who practices in Coxsackie NY. Coxsackie Dental Arts provides the people of Greene and Albany Counties with personalized, patient centered Dental Care, utilizing state of the art methods.