Honorable Chris Chocola
United States of America

Studies show that millions of Americans (including 75 % of children) have oral health problems that could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Without treatment, many could develop more serious problems, including: cavities, tooth loss, diseased gums, bone destruction, and joint problems.

Although there is not a universal best age to begin orthodontic treatment, the AAO recommends that every child see an orthodontist at an early age. This could be as young as 2 or 3, but should be no later than age 7. Although many people associate orthodontic treatment with adolescence, orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth or with the teeth much earlier, even while the primary (or baby) teeth are still present.

The American Dental Association recommends that every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. With early detection, many orthodontic problems are easier to correct before jaw growth ceases.

Early examination enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems and determine the appropriate time to treat them. "Preventive or interceptive" treatment may be initiated to prevent more serious problems from developing. For some youngsters, early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma. A child nicknamed "Bucky" may suffer more than teasing. Furthermore, studies show that protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping and other forms of dental injury.

A person with a facial deformity or crooked teeth often is judged negatively not only on appearance, but also on many other characteristics such as intelligence and personality.

Studies have shown that children and adults who have teeth or jaws they view as unattractive may suffer from a lack of self-esteem and confidence. In some cases, the psychological impact of crooked teeth has been found to hamper a person's social or vocational growth. Dr. Joyce Brothers, a leading psychologist and former adult orthodontic patient, holds that the need for acceptance is something we never outgrow. An adult who feels unattractive because of crooked teeth may cover his or her mouth when speaking or laughing, and may feel self-conscious in social situations.

Naturally, one feels better when one looks better, and a pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one's self-confidence and self-esteem. A person's self-consciousness often disappears as orthodontic treatment brings teeth, lips and face into their proper positions. Although dental health concerns are frequently the primary impetus for orthodontic treatment, but in many cases, orthodontics provides both physical and psychological benefits.

We need to offer lower income families the same opportunities for overall physical health, which includes their mouth. Why when so many states have included this coverage into their state insurance policies has Indiana left it out?

Mr. Chocola can you help our children have a better quality of life? Can you help us get full orthodontic treatment included into the state's health plan?

We, the undersigned, implore the United States, in conjunction with their professional duty, to look closer into the issue of Dental Orthodontic health and verify that their state insurance policies for low income families include orthodontic health. We feel that instead of instituting a policy that only cures dental health years after the health issues have arrived, that the government should make early prevention and treatment a priority.

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The Include orthodontics in Hoosier Healthwise Coverage petition to Honorable Chris Chocola was written by Tracie Hunsberger and is in the category Youth at GoPetition.