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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Oral Health of Missourians Faces Persistent Challenges

Oral health problems affect not only a person's ability to eat and speak but are inter-connected with such serious health issues as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and preterm or low birth-weight infants. (Pixabay)
Oral health problems affect not only a person's ability to eat and speak but are inter-connected with such serious health issues as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and preterm or low birth-weight infants. (Pixabay)
March 20, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Show-Me State continues to rank below average for oral health, but there has been recent progress on that front.

The state Legislature reinstated coverage for dental care for adults who are eligible for Medicaid. That has helped provide more people with oral services and opened up emergency rooms as locations where non-traumatic oral conditions could be helped.

Gary Harbison, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health, says introducing that extra access has decreased the total number of people who are heading to the ER.

"We have started to see a trend of people dropping off, so that's an important indicator that increased access makes for a more efficient and sensible health-care system that doesn't burn money in inefficient ways," he explains.

While numbers can't confirm that the legislative change has made a positive impact, Harbison says the downward trend in the number of people ending up in the ER is good news for a state that has long struggled with oral health.

As part of the 2018 Oral Health Policy Conference, four Missouri doctors were recognized along with the state Department of Health and Senior Services for their continued efforts to promote oral health in the state. Nida Willson and Doctors Marlene Feisthamel, Nicholas Hein and Jody Vance received the awards for their efforts to advocate for fluoridation in the public water supply.

The health department received its award for its outreach to children across the state to promote dental hygiene and education. Harbison says educating kids on oral health is especially crucial here.

"It's very important in Missouri because we have so many rural areas in the state where kids have little or no access to good, basic dental care," he says.

The health department partners with local schools to promote dental hygiene, educating thousands of kids on the importance of taking care of those pearly whites and providing fluoride varnishes and supplies.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MO