Tester shoring up more Montana smiles

Senator backs bill to increase access to dental care, save money

(U.S. SENATE) – Making sure the Big Sky State is also the Big Smile State, Senator Jon Tester is improving Montanans’ access to high-quality dental care.
Tester is backing legislation that makes it easier for low-income Montanans to receive dental services.  His bill will provide more patients with necessary dental treatments by increasing outreach and matching individuals with local dental professionals who donate their services.
Dental care is the largest unmet medical need in the country, with rural communities, children, and the poor most at risk.  Seniors are also at risk, as Medicare does not provide dental coverage.  A recent Pew Center survey of children’s dental health gave Montana a failing grade.
“Access to quality health care raises Montanans’ quality of life,” Tester said.  “Taking care of our teeth is a big part of leading a healthy life, and this bill helps folks get the care they need.  Montana’s dentists deserve credit for stepping up to the plate with this idea.”
Poor dental health impacts more than just teeth.  Individuals who do not receive regular cleanings and necessary treatments are more likely to develop gum disease, which is a risk factor for heart and lung disease, diabetes, premature birth and other conditions. 
In addition to the AARP and the American Dental Association, Tester’s bill is also supported by the American Diabetes Foundation and the National Kidney Foundation.
Tester also noted that regular dental care saves money.  Whereas a routine teeth cleaning costs up to $100, Emergency Room dental treatment can cost thousands of dollars.
In 2009, 130 million Americans had no dental insurance.  For more information about dental care, click HERE.
Tester met with members of the Montana Dental Association about the bill in May.  The bill, which supports free dental care for low-income patients for five years, is available online HERE.