Sen. Bernie Sanders warns of a growing ‘crisis in dental care’ in the US


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has warned of a growing “dental care crisis” in the United States, saying his recently introduced legislation to address the issue would expand dental benefits while ultimately saving the government money.

“Anyone who looks objectively at the reality facing the American people recognizes that there is a dental care crisis in the United States,” Sanders said in an interview with The Guardian published on Friday. “Imagine that in the richest country in the world. ”

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Sanders introduced a bill last week that would expand Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Affairs to provide dental care to more Americans. It would also increase the number of dentists and other workers in rural and underserved areas.

He told the Guardian he had been working on dental care issues “for many years”.

“I think this is an issue that tens of millions of Americans care deeply about, but it really doesn't get the media attention it deserves,” he said.

Sanders said he has heard of voters being denied jobs because of missing teeth or feeling like they have to cover their mouths when they smile.

“Bad teeth or bad teeth are a sign of poverty,” he said. “It becomes a personal issue, a psychological issue, a financial issue.”

At last week's HELP hearing, Sanders said that when people discuss America's health care crisis, they often overlook dental care.

Dental care is “too expensive,” he said, and many rural Americans don't have access to a dentist. Sanders said at the hearing that there is “widespread suffering” that is unseen because the issue is not discussed enough.

In a statement announcing the legislation, Sanders said few dentists across the country accept Medicaid and there is a lack of transparency in the prices they charge.

One in five seniors in the United States has lost all of their natural teeth, and more than 40 percent of American children have tooth decay before they enter kindergarten, he said.

Nearly 70 million adults and 8 million children do not have dental insurance, Sanders said, and many who do have dental insurance skip appointments because they can't afford it or find coverage insufficient.

Sanders noted that spending money on dental care may help free up other funds for health insurance. Treating periodontal disease in patients with chronic heart disease could save up to $27.8 billion annually.

“Dental care is medical care, and health care must be viewed as a human right, not a privilege,” Sanders said in a statement.

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