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In brief: "You need teeth to function"

May 11, 2023
Learn about a ruling in New York that allows necessary dental care for potentially millions of people; the differences in general perceptions on the oral-systemic connection; and more.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

“You need to have teeth to function in our society”

A class-action suit first filed in 2018 and settled earlier this month will allow coverage of common but costly dental procedures—including implants, root canals, and replacement dentures—for some 5 million adults in New York state on Medicaid. The suit, filed in federal court against the state Health Department, charged the state with denying thousands of people on Medicaid medically necessary treatment and argued that dental health was essential not just to physical health but also to psychological well-being and employment. “You need to have teeth to function in our society,” a lawyer involved with the suit told the New York Times. “It impacts everything in your life — your relationships, how people see themselves, how others see you.”

According to the Times article, the settlement obligates New York Medicaid to cover implants, replacement dentures, and most root canals if the procedures are authorized by a dentist. It also negates a rule that denied coverage for many procedures to people with four matched upper and lower pairs of back teeth, which the state had “considered adequate for functional purposes.”

New resources on antibiotic stewardship

The CDC, OSAP, and ADA have collectively released new and updated antibiotic stewardship resources for dentists, including a fact sheet from the CDC that highlights recommendations from the ADA guideline on the use of antibiotics for the management of dental pain and intraoral swelling. Current ADA guidelines advised against using antibiotics to manage most dental pain and intraoral swelling, instead recommending over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, if needed. As well, the CDC released a brochure that dentists can use to inform patients and their families about using antibiotics appropriately for a safe dental visit.

Survey shows generational differences in perceptions, understanding of oral health

Findings shared from a recent survey indicate that most US adults consider oral health very important to overall health, but that there are significant disparities among different generations with oral care knowledge and habits. Among the results of the 2023 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness report by Delta Dental, some 92% of adults feel their oral health is “extremely” or “very” important to their overall health, but Gen Z—younger adults—draw a slightly weaker connection than millennials, Gen X, and boomers. It also found that boomers are less knowledgeable than other generations on the link between oral health and specific chronic conditions such as diabetes and dementia.