A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Oral Health

The People Behind the MassHealth Dental Cuts: "It's penny-wise, pound-foolish"

A moving story in the Cape Cod Times puts a human face on the cuts to MassHealth dental benefits. Jill Sablone was the victim of a car crash that left her brain damaged. She is legally blind and has a shunt in her head to drain excess fluid from her brain. She must visit the dentist about four times a year to reduce the risk of a bacterial infection from developing in her mouth and spreading to the shunt's thin, flexible tube. Read more »

Dental Benefits Restored -- In Michigan

The Governor of Michigan signed additional legislation this week that, among other things, reinstates their adult dental services. By making oral health a priority, Michigan is ensuring the overall health and quality of life of all of their residents. The Surgeon General’s Oral Health In America report suggests that oral health problems can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature birth. Poor oral health can also impact a person’s ability to eat, talk, and concentrate at work or school. Read more »

Globe Calls Attention to the Importance of Water Fluoridation

“Massachusetts, the birthplace of public health, has long led the nation in disease-fighting crusades, vaccinating children at high rates and crafting antismoking campaigns exported around the world. But it ranks 36th when it comes to providing residents with fluoridated water,” a recent article in the Boston Globe reports. Community water fluoridation is a safe and effective preventive measure that can easily be added to public water supplies. Fluoride keeps tooth enamel strong and prevents tooth decay and the serious problems that occur with dental infections. With an average cost of $.50... Read more »

Michigan Moving in the Right Direction To Restore Medicaid Oral Health Benefits

Recent news from Michigan indicates that Medicaid dental benefits for adults may soon be restored. Like Massachusetts, Michigan cut their dental program to balance the budget. A House-Senate conference committee reinstated the dental program this week. There are still several more steps in the approval process- however, MI residents should remain hopeful, and decision-makers in the Commonwealth should take note of the importance of oral health care. Read more »

Boston Business Journal: Champions in Health Care

In a well-attended breakfast at the Seaport Hotel this morning, the Boston Business Journal honored twenty Champions in Health Care, calling them the brightest and most innovating people in medicine. Those honored include many close partners and collaborators of HCFA, and we congratulate them all. HCFA's oral health advocacy program wants to particularly mention Dr. Man Wai Ng, Dentist in Chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, among the honorees. Dr. Ng and her work with children’s oral health were honored as an innovative piece of the health care puzzle. A key part of her work is educating... Read more »

Protecting our Seniors: The Elder Dental Program Speaks up for Oral Health

Many populations are disproportionately hurt by cuts to the MassHealth adult dental program that eliminate services such as fillings, root canals, and dentures. Because oral health is a key piece of overall health and wellness, lack of these services can impact people in a number of ways. Today, Elizabeth Perry, the Program Manager at the Elder Dental Program shares how these cuts are affecting seniors in the Commonwealth. Read more »

Oral Health on CommonHealth

A new blog post about oral health and the impact of the MassHealth dental cuts was posted at WBUR’s CommonHealth blog today. The post focuses on how individuals are being impacted by these cuts by highlighting the stories of three callers who called HCFA’s HelpLine when they had trouble accessing care. The blog also explains that cutting adult dental benefits is a step backwards for health reform in the Commonwealth. “Massachusetts led the way toward getting more people covered by health insurance,” it begins, “but recently it took a notable step in the other direction.” The post ends with... Read more »

"Are Your Teeth Killing You?" -- Dentist Spotlights Diseases You Had No Idea Were Connected to Your Teeth

Most people are unaware that the condition of their teeth can affect the health of their entire bodies. Dentist Charles Martin has published a book focusing on his research which shows that oral health is related to a huge range of health issues: Read more »

The People behind the Dental Cuts: “Oral health is the biggest part of my health care”

Beth (not her real name) is a hard-working woman who is also homeless and on MassHealth. She strongly believes that dental care is the largest part of her health care, despite a complex combination of health issue, including HIV, asthma, and epilepsy. During a recent stay at a local homeless shelter, Beth’s dentures were stolen. She has a great relationship with her dentist, and trusts him to properly treat her, since he understands her entire medical history. However, with the recent changes to MassHealth, she can no longer see her dentist to replace her stolen dentures- she must seek out... Read more »

The Dental Voice for Mental Health

In 2008, Lisa Knapp Stillman shared her personal story of caring for her twenty-four year old son with severe mental illness (SMI). Of all of the struggles she has faced, she emphasized the effect of his illness on his oral health: “Within one year of my son’s diagnosis, after taking the prescribed medications, his teeth began to disintegrate. Because his medications caused him to have dry mouth coupled with the negative symptoms of his SMI, his teeth developed severe decay that led to over $15,000 in dental reconstruction. We were fortunate that we could provide dental treatment for him,... Read more »


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