Mr. QUIGLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today because we can no longer afford to treat oral health as separate from general health.
The mouth is a part of the body, and dental care must be part of comprehensive care. Oral diseases and disorders can cause severe pain, malnutrition, and even death if left untreated.
But because oral care has long been excluded from comprehensive care, thousands of families and children are left without dental care. Twenty-two percent of all out-of-pocket spending in the U.S. is spent on dental care, and dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease.
Our workforce loses 164 million work hours each year due to dental problems, and close to half of military recruits in 2008 were ineligible for deployment due to dental issues.
This is unacceptable. We can, and must, do better than this.
We must preserve funding for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, and fully fund the many oral health care provisions in Health Care Reform. The mouth is part of the body, and must be treated as such.