OHA: Older Americans Face Barriers When Trying to Access Oral Healthcare

Posted on September 2, 2015

CHICAGOSept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The older adult population in the United States is rapidly increasing, with 10,000 Americans reaching retirement age every day, but many face barriers when it comes to accessing oral healthcare. According to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Oral Health America (OHA), more than half of low income older adults have not seen a dentist in the past year, with most citing lack of income or lack of dental insurance as the reason.

In addition, older Americans are not 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. According to the survey, sponsored by the DentaQuest Foundation, 71 percent of respondents said their doctor rarely or never discusses how medications can impact oral health and 66 percent 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 CEOBeth 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." These barriers are why OHA's Fall for Smilescampaign is so important. The annual public awareness campaign promotes the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth through daily brushing, flossing and rinsing, regular dental visits, eating healthy foods and avoiding tobacco products.

To call attention to the oral healthcare challenges facing older adults, OHA and Oral Healthcare Can't Wait, an initiative of the Dental Trade Alliance, together with the DentaQuest Foundation, are hosting an event on Capitol Hill on September 30. The event, Aging in America: "You Can't Be Healthy Without Good Oral Health," will bring together oral health leaders who will learn the results of OHA's recent Harris Poll on older adult oral health and preview A State of Decay, Vol. III, OHA's biannual report on the state of older adult oral health in America. For more information about attending this event, please visit the Fall for Smiles webpage,oralhealthamerica.org/fallforsmiles.

"The 2015 Fall for Smiles campaign focuses on the oral health of older adults," said Dental Trade Alliance CEO, Gary Price, "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 during September and October, to raise awareness about the importance of oral health."

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

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