Older Americans Face Barriers in Oral Care Access

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every day, 10,000 Americans reach retirement age. Yet more than half of all low-income older adults have not seen a dentist in the past year, mostly due to a lack of income or insurance, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Oral Health America (OHA) and sponsored by the DentaQuest Foundation.

Also, older Americans aren’t being educated about oral health from the health professionals they see most often, especially when they are unable to see a dentist on a regular basis. The survey also notes that 71% of respondents said their doctor rarely or never discusses how medications can impact oral health, and 66% said the same of their pharmacist.

“Older Americans deserve to have the resources they need to maintain a healthy mouth as they age,” said OHA president and CEO Beth Truett. “Mouth health impacts overall health, especially for older adults, and those with poor oral health face increased obstacles to keeping their teeth, avoiding gum disease, and staying active and independent.”

Responding to these challenges, OHA has launched its annual Fall for Smiles campaign to promote the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth through daily brushing, flossing and rinsing, regular dental visits, eating healthy foods, and avoiding tobacco products.

OHA and the DentaQuest Foundation also have teamed up with Oral Healthcare Can’t Wait, an initiative of the Dental Trade Alliance, to host You Can’t Be Healthy Without Good Oral Health. The September 30 event on Capital Hill in Washington, DC, will bring together oral health leaders who will learn about the results of OHA’s recent survey. They also will preview A State of Decay, Vol. III, OHA’s biannual report on the state of older adult oral health in America.

“The 2015 Fall for Smiles campaign focuses on the oral health of older adults,” said Gary Price, CEO of the Dental Trade Alliance. “But the message of Fall for Smiles is important for all ages. As a founding partner of the campaign in 2010, Oral Healthcare Can’t Wait supports the messages that call on industry and professional partners to participate in the Fall for Smiles campaign to raise awareness about the importance of oral health.”

Fall for Smiles is sponsored by 3M ESPE, the DentaQuest Foundation, Denticator, Hu-Friedy, Listerine, Midmark, the National Dental Association, Oral Healthcare Can’t Wait, Patterson Dental, Sunstar, Trident, and Whip Mix.