Introduction

The importance of daily oral care and access to dental care continues, even as a person gets older. In Massachusetts more than 13% of the state’s population are considered seniors, defined as being 65 years of age or older. There are more than 143,000 residents age 85 and older and that number is expected to grow to 52% by 2030. With the majority of older Americans having at least one chronic disease and the scientific evidence demonstrating a relationship between chronic disease and oral health status, resources need to be readily available to assist seniors, family members and professionals who are unsure about the oral care for this growing group of people.

Reports

The Commonwealth's High-Risk Senior Population: Results and Recommendations from a 2009 Statewide Oral Health Assessment describes the oral heath needs of two senior populations… residents age 60 and older residing in licensed long-term care facilities and community residents who attend state-subsidized meal programs. The report also provides an overview of the implications poor oral health has on general health and the lack of adequate access to oral health care services some seniors are experiencing.

The report recommends the integration of oral health into the overall health care of these vulnerable seniors, promoting the utilization of medical professionals to enable the early identification of oral diseases and dental professionals, such as the public health dental hygienist, to increase access, as well as the establishment of recommendations, guidelines and policies to improve the oral health of all seniors.

Fact Sheets

Resources

Top 10 Oral Health Problems Impacting Seniors (webinar)

This webinar will provide medical and health care providers, home health aides, as well as seniors and their family members with information on the top 10 oral health problems experience by seniors.

Oral Care for the Homebound (webinar)

This webinar was developed to assist family members and health care workers, such as home health aides, to understand the importance of oral care for seniors and how to perform daily care for the person they are caring for, even if they have dentures.

Growing Old with a Smile: Oral Health for Older Adults in Long-Term Care

This video series and workbook were created to help long-term care facility staff do a better job in providing oral care for their residents. The series was developed by the Minnesota Department of Health’s Licensing and Certification Program and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s Oral Health Services for Older Adults Program.

Making a Difference Serving Seniors (video)

This video provides information about “public health dental hygienists,” a new category of dental profession in Massachusetts who are able to provide preventive dental services to seniors living at home and in long-term care. Public health dental hygienists are able to be directly reimbursed by MassHealth (Medicaid).