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CT Dentists: Adults Need Oral Health Care Just Like Kids

September 14, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut ranks near the top among states in providing oral health care for its children. Now a statewide organization is kicking off an oral health care initiative for adults, many of whom haven't sat in a dentist's chair in decades.

Dr. Linda Erlanger, advocacy director of the Connecticut Oral Health Initiative, who is a dentist, says focusing on getting care for all the state's children, regardless of income, has paid off.

"I think our advocates made the difference in securing better oral health for Connecticut's children, and I think it's really important that we do the same thing for adults."

She says that, according to a national survey of adult oral health, 77 percent of adults suffer from chronic gum disease, and that makes addressing the problem urgent.

Dr. Erlanger adds that some studies show a link between infected gums and such serious conditions as coronary artery disease, diabetes, and stroke.

"When we say health care, it incorporates all aspects of health care, and obviously oral health care is an important part of that. We don't really want to see health care and oral health care as separate entities but as one."

She says the good habits that children form are essential to adult well-being.

"It's important for both children and adults to receive regular preventive oral health services, because we know children with good oral health can become adults with good oral health."

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT