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Letter: Access to dental health benefit not a luxury

Editor, Gazette-Journal:

Among the 10 steps outlined by Governor McAuliffe in his “A Healthy Virginia” plan to increase access to health care for the most vulnerable of Virginia citizens, was step five. This step will provide comprehensive dental benefits to the approximately 45,000 pregnant women enrolled in Virginia’s Medicaid and FAMIS insurance programs. Dental? Yes. Dental.

As a practicing OBGYN, I know oral health is important in women’s healthcare. I see the effects of dental disease and poor oral health on my patients every day, and I have been frustrated that women most in need are unable to access dental care because it is not covered under Medicaid. Poor oral health is linked to diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Amazingly, dental disease is the most common chronic disease in children—more common than asthma. It leads to millions of lost hours from school, and for many children, causes overwhelming pain that affects their abilit...

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