Dental health has always been important. In recent years access to dental health care and the quality of that care has generally been on the rise due to a series of societal, economic, and political factors, such as the Affordable Care Act and advances in new forms of technology that will help improve typical procedures, as well as help limit the number of dentists’ medical malpractice cases.
While it is acknowledged that dental health has been considered an important part of everyday life for a while, it has come to light recently that poor dental health can actually lead to poor overall well being and, in some cases such as those with existing health conditions, a higher mortality rate.
It has also come to light recently that one in four children have untreated tooth decay and one in four Medicare patients no longer have any of their natural teeth. This especially affects low-income families as well as racial and ethnic minorities who tend to not have the access to care that many others do.
With these new developments and drastic statistics, it seems important to focus on expanding higher quality dental health care to those who it is affecting the most while still avoiding medical malpractice for the dentists involved. Currently, the Affordable Care Act has no provisions for adult dental health care and minimal provisions for children’s dental health care. Regardless of debate or political affiliation, if universal health care is going to be a priority in this country, shouldn’t it cover all aspects of health?
If the Affordable Care Act is eventually expanded to include a more comprehensive dental plan for those who need it, it is still important to remember the most common reasons for medical malpractice suits against dentists: errors in treatment, using improper techniques, and failing to follow up after a treatment. If the trend of providing a more universal health care continues, it is entirely possible that the number of medical malpractice cases could increase, but by remembering these and facing the numerous challenges that lie ahead, they are easily avoided and the country will have much better, and healthier, smiles to show for it.