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Experts discuss oral health disparities, issues affecting older Americans

October 21, 2016

Creating a dialogue: Dr. Paul Glassman presents on the impact of growing oral health disparities, access and care and new oral health science during the Elder Oral Health Meeting in the ADA Washington office. 

— The ADA National Elder Care Advisory Committee hosted a special Elder Oral Health Meeting Oct. 13, bringing together a variety of policy and advocacy experts to discuss the future of oral health for older Americans.

“For many low income adults, and especially low income older adults, good oral health has been considered less important than the health of other parts of our bodies. Yet we know that good oral health is vital to having good overall health, being able to socialize with others and having productive lives,” said Dr. Paul Glassman, NECAC chair and professor at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. “This meeting was the beginning of a dialogue that will be critical in the coming years if we are to collectively address the many issues facing older adults in supporting and maintaining their oral health.”

NECAC is one of five advisory committees that offer technical assistance and guidance on geriatrics and special needs to the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations. During the meeting, advisory committee members and other experts in oral health and aging discussed the impact of oral health disparities, access to care, and new oral health science. They also talked about potential and consistent oral health benefits for older adults in Medicare and Medicaid.

Discussion: Mary Worstell, a senior advisor in the Office of Women’s Health, takes part in a group discussion during the Oct. 13 Elder Oral Health Meeting in Washington.

“NECAC looks forward to working with the group to meet the needs of underserved older adults who currently do not have access to care because of low incomes, lack of dental coverage, or medical complexity that make providing care difficult and expensive,” said Dr. Judith Jones, director, Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

In addition to NECAC, invited organizations included the U.S. Department of Health Resources and Services Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women’s Health; Oral Health America; National Council on Aging; Justice in Aging; National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-term Care; Research America; DentaQuest Foundation; National Association of Area Agencies on Aging; Meals on Wheels America; West Health; and the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center.