As of 2020, the percentage of women ages 18-44 who reported visiting the dentist or dental clinic within the past year.
Dental healthcare involves keeping teeth and gums healthy through regular check-ups, cleanings, and treatments. It includes preventing and addressing issues like cavities and gum disease to ensure overall well-being.
Access is limited by the perception that dental care is secondary to bodily health care.
Employers may offer dental health insurance as an opt-in program, requiring employees to pay an additional fee for coverage. Dental plans are available through the Insurance Marketplace, but they are most often offered as a separate expense.
Medicaid (called SoonerCare in Oklahoma) includes dental coverage, but providers who accept it are more limited.
While it is important for most everyone to go to the dentist at least twice a year, access to dental services are especially essential for women. Dental issues can sometimes arise from otherwise benign hormone changes in the body during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause .
While dental hygiene might seem like a lower priority when considering other health-related needs, gum disease is strongly correlated with heart disease and diabetes, and excessive tooth loss is connected to coronary artery disease . These issues are exacerbated during pregnancy when women are more likely to experience gum disease .
Neglected dental care can negatively affect a person economically. Poor dental hygiene and tooth loss can affect a person’s appearance, ultimately impacting hiring and job promotion.
SoonerCare provides coverage for dental needs, including during the expanded postpartum coverage period, but Oklahomans can still find it difficult to find a dental provider that accepts the coverage. SoonerCare also expanded the services covered in recent years .
Data from 2019 indicates that Oklahoma ranks 39 (of 51) for dentists per 100,000 residents . As with all healthcare, dental providers are densest around the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas. Dental access in rural parts of the state mirrors the pattern of other specialists, which are few and far between in these areas.
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