I received this email regarding Washington State’s Dental Access Campaign.

Hello friends,

[Below] is the story of a young person, Steve, who lost his life because he wasn’t able to access oral health care. As some of you know, I nearly lost my life to infection due to tooth abscess because I was not able to access oral health care.

I have a friend who’s brother died from abscessed tooth infection, like Steve.

I have many friends and neighbors and family members who suffer because they cannot access oral health care.

All of us have friends, neighbors and family members suffering because they cannot access oral health care.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  All of this suffering could be prevented if we improved access to preventive dental care. In other states, mid-level dental providers—trained professionals that work with a dentist to provide routine services—are helping to close the gap and deliver more affordable care to people and communities going without.

In Solidarity,

Aaron Kathman

“Steve McNall of Lacey, Washington, was a son, an uncle, and a hard worker. When the recession hit, his hours at his job at a local golf course were cut back. He cut back too. He sold his house and moved into a small apartment near his family. He was living paycheck to paycheck. So when his tooth began to hurt, instead of seeking treatment he took an over the counter painkiller. But the pain continued. When it became unbearable, he finally gave in to his mother’s pressure to see someone. He visited a dental clinic accepting low income clients where staff confirmed he had an abscessed tooth and referred him to the emergency room for treatment of the severe infection. But without money for medical bills, he went home to rest instead. Hours later, after he didn’t answer his phone, his mom came by to check on him. But Steve was gone. The infection in his tooth had traveled throughout his body. Just two weeks after his tooth started hurting, on November 13, 2012, Steve McNall lost his life to an abscessed tooth – and a lack of affordable dental care.

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“He was a good man,” says his mother Brenda. “He worked. He paid his bills. When you think of all the medical problems in the world, it’s such a waste. Why are Steve and others like him not around? It’s unfair in a way. But dental care is outrageous.” It doesn’t have to be this way. When people have access to routine care, emergencies are prevented. Mid-level dental providers—highly trained professionals who work with dentists in high need communities—are successfully working in other states to deliver exactly this kind of care. Even with Washington state’s increased efforts to provide dental insurance through Medicaid, too many people can’t get routine and preventive care. Three out of four dentists in our state reject this form of payment. We are a compassionate, innovative state. No one should suffer, and no one should lose their life because dental health care is out of reach. The time is now to put solutions in place, so that what happened to Steve doesn’t happen again.(http://wadentalaccess.com/)

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