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04 October 2023

‘Gray Tsunami’ Foreshadows Oral Healthcare Crisis

Oral health in a person’s golden years is a numbers game. The more natural teeth people retain – ideally at least 20 – the greater their quality of life and the lower their risk of chronic disease. For the 51% of Americans on Medicare who lack dental care, the odds are stacked against them.

A study into oral health among Medicare beneficiaries in American nursing homes underscores the far-reaching consequences of inadequate oral health. The study also brings into stark relief the disparities of oral health seen across ethnic groups.

In the following Q&A, Bruce Dye, DDS, MPH, the Delta Dental Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Caries Prevention and professor and chair of the Department of Community Dentistry and Population Health at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, comments on the study and the need for expansion of Medicare coverage for dental care.

Amid a swelling population – the so-called “gray tsunami” – of retirement-age people, the crux of the problem: “Every American has access to medical care at age 65 and older, but they don’t for dental health,” Dye said. “And oral health and general health, we know are strongly interconnected.”

The JAMA Network recently published a commentary by Dye, who was co-project director of the Oral Health in America report, on the topic. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the Q&A here: https://news.cuanschutz.edu/news-stories/gray-tsunami-foreshadows-oral-healthcare-crisis

Author: Chris Casey 

Source: https://news.cuanschutz.edu/

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