20 Years of Disability Progress Still Leaves Room for Improvement

This week is the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which mandates equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, access to public facilities, transportation and telecommunications.

Here in Boston, this important landmark was celebrated with a march and a rally on the Common. However, we should also use this as a reminder that there is still work to be done to truly create equity.

Oral health is central to the health and well being of all people, including those with disabilities. Dental decay is a bacterial infection and can spread to the rest of the body if left untreated. What begins as a cavity can quickly progress into a life-threatening infection. Good oral health reduces long-term health care costs by reducing sources of infection, supporting communication, nutrition, and improving quality of life.

Brushing and flossing alone are not enough- access to dental care is crucial to maintaining overall health. It is especially important for those who may have limited mobility and are unable to brush or floss on their own. Additionally, some people without use of their arms or legs rely on their mouth for day-to-day activities, such as maneuvering by wheelchair, dialing a telephone, turning on a light switch, and typing by manipulating a mouse stick with their mouth.

Recent changes to MassHealth adult dental benefits make it more difficult for people to access critical components of oral health care such as fillings, root canals, treatment for gum disease and dentures. MassHealth no longer covers these services; people must instead try to gain access through a community health center.

So as we celebrate this important anniversary, let’s continue to stand up for oral health. For more information on how to get involved, please contact Christine Keeves at ckeeves@hcfama.org.
-Christine Keeves

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