Oral Health of Seniors in America: New Report


A new report from Oral Health America, published on April 17, 2018, reveals a mixed bag for the oral health of seniors in America. In some states, the story is excellent; in others, it is disturbing. Here are some key points from the study:

  • Half of the United States received a “fair” or “poor” rating.
  • Coverage needed to pay for dental care is critical to improving the oral health of seniors.
  • One-third of older adults age 65 and older have lost 6 or more teeth.
  • Community water fluoridation increased from a state average of 71.9% (2016) to 72.6% (2018).
  • Many states do not cover basic dental treatments for older adults on Medicaid.
    • Only 42 states cover extractionsdentures and dollars
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    • 31 States cover a periodic oral evaluation
    • Only 23 states cover periodontal maintenance
    • 14 states cover fluoride varnish
    • 21 states cover crowns
    • 23 states cover scaling and root planning
    • 31 states cover dentures
    • 31 cover periodic oral evaluation
    • 32 states cover composite restorations
    • 32 states cover amalgam restorations

How are States performing in terms of the oral health of older adults? The study evaluated community water fluoridation, dental visits, adult dental Medicaid coverage, severe tooth loss, and basic screening surveys. The Best States were: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Connecticut, Colorado. The worst states were: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi. Virginia ranked in the middle area.

The increase in fluoridated water communities is good. But this does not address DENTAL CARE for our senior adults. What is a person to do to prevent decay and tooth loss? What is available to our seniors to maintain good oral health and not contribute to or exacerbate other conditions and illnesses?

The critical element of all oral health programs is PREVENTION of decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. But for many older adults, medication-caused dry mouth is very difficult to combat. Many oral health issues can be prevented or minimized by a combination of dental care and proper dental hygiene. When our seniors cannot afford a dental visit, this kind of prevention and care is a significant challenge. We need dental visits and evaluations in order to identify and treat problems as early as possible.

At Complete Dental Care in Salem, Virginia, Dr. Caroline Wallace and her team of professionals recognize the importance of dental care and the need for affordable oral health care. This is one of the primary reasons we created the COMPLETE DENTAL CARE SAVINGS PLAN. This program makes available to participants full basic dental care for a full year at a cost that is significantly lower than most commercial dental insurance or dental care plans. In addition, participants in the plan receive discounts on other procedures. We encourage local senior adults to consider the value of this plan and their need of continuing high quality dental care.

At this time, in fact, we are promoting a special offer to people whose parents are aged 60 or older. If you sign up your parents for this plan, we will help them get a good start in dental hygiene by giving them a complementary Oral-B Vitality electric toothbrush. In addition to our basic plan, we also offer a plan for periodontal care. The details of both plans can be found here: http://www.carolinewallacedds.com/complete-dental-care-savings-plan.html Call today for your appointment or your parent’s appointment.

To your oral health,

Caroline Wallace, DDS