Access to proper dental care is an issue for many Americans, but a recent survey singled out one demographic that could be at the most risk for developing oral disease. The study found that the older adult population in the U.S. has particular difficulty in receiving care, especially those in the low-income category, with many not seeing a dentist in over a year. According to a recent article from The Dental Tribune, the survey also found that older Americans are inadequately educated about oral health and drug interaction.
The breakdown of proper education can fall on the shoulders of the health professionals who work with this group. More than 70% of participants claimed their doctor rarely or never discusses the relationship between their medications and oral health. Furthermore, 66% said the same of their pharmacist. A majority of seniors take some kind of medication, either over-the-counter or prescription, both of which have oral health side effects, including dry mouth and reduction of salivary flow, which creates a greater risk for developing oral disease.
In addition to side effects from medication, lack of dental insurance is also being blamed for oral health issues in older Americans. Many lose existing dental coverage when they retire, if they were fortunate enough to have it in the first place. In an effort to raise awareness of oral health issues among the elderly, the national nonprofit organization, Oral Health America (OHA), is promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth with their annual “Fall for Smiles” campaign. This year, the campaign includes an event called “Aging in America: You Can’t Be Healthy Without Good Oral Health.” OHA will present the results of its recent survey at the event, which will be held on September 30 in Washington.