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Barriers to Dental Health Care for Older Adults, and How to Overcome Them

Inherent with aging are a variety of potential physical changes and challenges with which we’re all familiar, but one lesser known condition is dental degradation. With good hygiene habits and enhancements to oral care such as fluoridation, older adults are often now able to keep their own teeth later in life, rather than automatically deferring to dentures. However, it’s troubling to note that for many older adults, dental health care in later years is no longer an option, due to financial restrictions: it’s not covered by Medicare in most cases, and even Medicaid’s coverage is extremely limited.

Oral health care is crucial to healthy aging, and when financial issues come into play, there are a number of alternative options seniors can consider:

  • Sliding scale dentists. Check with area dentists to see if any offer sliding scale fees based on income levels.
  • Dental schools. Dental schools may offer services at a lower rate, and sometimes provide screenings in local senior centers.
  • Hygienists. Seeing a dental hygienist or dental therapist in place of a dentist may be a more cost-effective option. In 39 states, patients can be treated by a hygienist without a dentist present.
  • Technology. As with every other aspect of life, technology can assist in a variety of ways, including dental care, such as a mouthpiece that is being developed that seniors can use when brushing and flossing become difficult – touted as “a carwash for your mouth” by Dr. Stephen Shuman of the Gerontological Society of America’s oral health group.

Another obstacle for older adults in staying up to date on preventative health care is transportation. Relevar Home Care is happy to transport and accompany seniors to dental and other medical appointments. Just give us a call today at 586-493-7677 to make arrangements. We service several counties in the Detroit Metro Area including Macomb and St. Clair.