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Much of the recent discussion of health care reform has ignored oral health. That’s unfortunate because good oral health means much more than healthy teeth and a nice smile. It is essential to overall health and well-being.

Poor oral health, a lack of dental care and untreated oral diseases can adversely affect an individual’s ability to speak, smile, kiss, chew, maintain proper nutrition, attend school or go to work. Statistics show that dental-related absences total 51 million hours annually for students across the country and more than 164 million work hours for adults annually.

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