The average life expectancy today is 78.7 years, with the number of people who live to 100 growing by 66% over the past 30 years. This increase also means our office of dental professionals can expect to see more older adult patients with chronic diseases, which often impact oral health and oral function.
Oral Health America Launches Landmark Site for Older Adults
As we age, our dental needs change. Medication induced dry mouth, limited incomes and difficulties with access to care are common issues that face the growing number of senior citizens in our area.
Oral Health America (OHA) has launched a new site, ToothWisdom.org, a first-of-its-kind website focusing on older adults and oral health. The site connects older adults and their caregivers to local dental care facilities and provides education about the oral health issues they face. It stresses he importance of continuing prevention as we age, and the overall impact of oral health on total body health.
Recently, Oral Health America issued a report titled “State of Decay: Are Older Americans Coming of Age Without Healthcare?”
Unfortunately, Florida was rated as one of the worst states for adult oral care.
States with a score of 90% or above have what’s considered “excellent” oral health care for older adults. 70-89.9% is “good,” 50-69.9% is “fair,” and anything below 50 is “poor.” Two states have excellent care, while 17 ended up with poor scores.
Even though we have more dentists per capita than many other states, we continue to neglect our seniors. One of the reasons our state performs poorly is that laws are restrictive on access to care for our aging community. Dental hygienists in Florida cannot provide preventive services to those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Older Americans with medical conditions and physical restrictions statistically have more decay, fewer teeth and more importantly, more infection. Also dental care is usually not a covered service under medicare.
Although the Affordable Care Act does include provisions for child dental services, once again, senior citizens are left out of the loop.
If you or someone you know is aging and going without routine dental care, please consider using toothwisdom.org as a resource for or consider helping them get to our office for an evaluation and basic dental services.