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Embarrassed by widely-circulated reports ranking West Virginia as the worst area for dental care in the U.S., state lawmakers have said they will find ways to improve the vital service in the coming weeks.
"West Virginia has been fighting this oral health issue for decades," Democratic Senator Roman Prezioso, chairman of the State Senate Health and Human Recourses Committee, told NBC affiliate WBOY.
He added, "It's important not just in health aspects, but [also in] the economic development part of it because people need good dental healthcare to go out and secure jobs."
Although oral health issues are not likely to be a central part of the state legislature's agenda until federal healthcare legislation is completed, West Virginia officials have begun preparations to make improved dental care a key goal this year.
One bill in its early stages aims to create a state office of dental health workers who would team up with dentist offices, schools and community organizations to promote oral hygiene, the news source reports.
The initiative would improve upon an existing health awareness program under the Department of Education by creating an office with full-time staff offering advice on health screenings and the importance of dental insurance.
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