Dentures are not just for the elderly; they help younger adults get and keep jobs.
Some areas that top the nation for unemployment also fare worst in a health measure that can keep people from getting jobs — missing teeth.
West Virginia is the starkest example. Not only did it have the highest jobless rate in June, but it also holds the dubious distinction of having the most working-age adults who have lost six or more teeth at 23%.
In fact, while most people associate lost teeth and dentures with the elderly, nearly one in five working-age adults in some Southern and Appalachian states have lost at least that many teeth, according to statistics from the Commonwealth Fund. And a study published last week in the journal Health Affairs showed 45 million American face dental care shortages, especially in rural areas. The need has spurred oral care professionals to respond with new ways to make dentures quickly and inexpensively to help those patients get back into the workforce.
Mary Deel, a 52-year-old former nursing home worker from Appalachian Virginia, saw the benefits recently when she received a free, full set of dentures made in an hour at a Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise, Va.
Without teeth, she didn’t smile much and didn’t want anyone to take her picture. But as soon as the dentures were fitted into her mouth, she showed them off with a proud grin in photos with dentists and technicians, saying “I’m happy…very happy.”
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