About a quarter of Oregonians on Medicaid get a dental visit each year. That compares to almost three-quarters of the general population.
Cavities and gingivitis might not sound like a big deal. But over time, poor dental health can lead to inflamed gums. And the bacteria from inflamed gums travel through the bloodstream causing everything from heart disease to cancer.
Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, especially wants women who are pregnant to be seen.
“It’s a very short window of opportunity and we know that at least 50 percent of them have dental carriers. And we know that that leads to premature birth," she said. "So how do we get to them really quickly and make sure that they see a dentist?”
The state has launched a work group to improve dental care access for Oregon’s poorest residents. It's expected to have a list of ways to improve access by September.