Health Share of Oregon supports fluoridation for Portland
The Health Share of Oregon Board of Directors has added its support to the effort by the Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition to encourage Portland to add fluoride to the city’s drinking water supply.
“Getting an early start on oral health can help a child start down the right path for overall health for a lifetime,” says Janet Meyer, interim chief executive officer. “The board believes that preventive care, including fluoridated water, good hygiene practices and regular visits to a dental care provider, is the best way to start.”
Formerly Tri-County Medicaid Cooperative, Health Share of Oregon will provide physical and mental health managed care services for Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) members in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, effective September 1.
Health Share and other CCOs eventually will also coordinate dental care services for Oregon Health Plan members. But it is concern about overall health that has led the Health Share board to support fluoridation.
For centuries physicians have suspected that oral health is linked to overall health. Recent research has confirmed it, with connections noted between dental disease and heart disease, diabetic complications, stroke, pneumonia and more.
Oregonians may be at greater risk for these conditions because of the state’s poor dental health. Oregon’s children don’t fare nearly as well as those in neighboring states when it comes to dental health. More than one third of Oregon children have untreated tooth decay, a rate that’s more than double the rate among children in Washington.
Improving dental health can also help control health care costs and increase health equity. Some 30 percent of health care costs for children are for treating dental disease, with severe cases treated all too often in the operating room. Poor dental health disproportionally affects people struggling with poverty. Poor children are less likely to have preventive care and more likely to miss school because of dental disease.
In more than 3,000 studies, the overwhelming evidence is that optimally fluoridated water has no negative impact on the 200 million Americans who now drink it, and that it improves a community’s dental health by at least 25 percent. It is the most effective and most affordable answer to the dental health crisis.
For information, contact Jeanie Lunsford.
Health Share of Oregon is the largest of the state’s newly created Coordinated Care Organizations, serving Oregon Health Plan members in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. For more information, see www.healthshareoregon.org
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