Should oral health be part of universal health care?
Overall health includes oral health so the question arises, “Should dental care be part of universal health care?”
Universal Health Coverage ensures that every individual gets access to preventive and remedial health services without affecting their financial stability. It lets you get medical assistance to rehabilitate and alleviate your health efficiently. It includes quality health services, treatment plans, and care. It empowers you to reach out to services that detect and treat the most notable disease-causing agents. Once you receive the treatments at the right time, your health also improves. Access to this health coverage should not put a person in financial hardships.
Why dental care should be part of universal health coverage
Oral health is part of your universal health no matter which age-group you lie in. It is more than just brushing, flossing, and cleaning your tongue. A quick check-up of your oral health can tell a lot about your overall health. If the dentist detects caries in their primary teeth, they can protect and prevent it from spreading by putting a pediatric dental crown. An oral cavity can lead to diseases like a kidney infection, heart condition, or even cancer. In spite of it, oral care services are not included in universal health care. Here are a few reasons why dental should be a part of universal health.
1. Improves Oral Health
Since oral health does not come under the universal health coverage, a lot of people cannot afford to undergo regular dental check-ups. Oral infections are left untreated for a long time, leading to tooth loss, pain, and a decline in productivity. Including oral health as part of universal health care will reduce the number of oral issues and promote better oral health. There will be equality, and people from every income group can use their health coverage for oral health
2. More Awareness about Oral Health
As of now, since in universal health care, the doctor examines your entire body, you undergo tests, and your doctor monitors your body for any signs of illness. Based on the test reports and doctors’ findings, he/she will give you some tips on how to take care of your body, along with medications(if required).
This process makes people more aware of their health. Most people are aware of the cause of an increase in cholesterol, an increase in weight, diabetes, etc. And they also know the steps required to keep them in control. But this is not the case with oral health. Since they don’t go for an annual oral check-up, they are less aware of oral care. Making dental a part of universal health care will make people more informed. They would take precautionary actions to prevent the occurrence of plaque and cavities.
3. Oral health affects overall health
Oral health does not limit to your teeth, gums, and tongue. Your mouth is the gateway into the body. Your entire body can have negative consequences due to your poor oral hygiene. Bleeding gums, bad odor, toothaches are symptoms of inadequate oral care. Your bloodstream is easily infected with these mouth bacteria, causing inflammation and disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that makes your gums inflamed.
These bacteria, if they get into your bloodstream, can cause atherosclerosis(hardening of arteries), which can cause heart blockages and strokes. Pregnant ladies often undergo universal health care before planning to conceive but ignore their oral health. It is crucial to practice good oral hygiene during pregnancy. Any oral infection during pregnancy can increase pregnancy complications like premature birth. Both the mother and the baby are at risk due to oral diseases. So, including dentistry in universal health care will reduce the health risks of the overall body.
4. Oral health affects people of all age groups:
Universal health coverage should be available for every age group. Making dentistry a part of overall health will lay a strong foundation for healthy teeth. They will not have the fear and anxiety of the dentists. The early dental visit will prevent the growth of caries in primary teeth, which, if not supervised at the right time, can spread to permanent teeth.
Dentistry in universal health coverage will encourage all parents to take their kids to the dentist for a routine check-up. They will learn the right way to brush, floss, and clean their tongue. It will avoid any future dental issues and overall health risk.
5. Oral health will reduce the financial burden on government:
Dental care can be expensive for many people. Many people do not visit the dentist due to the outlandish high costs. Since universal health care doesn’t include dentistry, people avoid their oral health check-up altogether. Including dentistry in UHC, will take off half the financial pressure of the people.
It will also reduce the financial burden on the government. When people go for their oral check-ups, it will protect them from serious health risks, which might otherwise remain undetected. This way, they don’t have to worry about going through any severe treatments in the future, for which the government would have to pay.
The above are a few reasons why dentistry should be a part of the universal health coverage. After all, the mouth is part of the body, so why should it not be a part of universal health care.