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NH Department of Health and Human Services Promotes Good Oral Health among Older Adults in Honor of National Senior Center Month
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Oral Health Program
Publish Date:
September 24, 2015

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services, Oral Health Program, has been providing oral health screenings in senior centers around the State to raise awareness of the importance of oral health for New Hampshire's older adults.

Older adults face barriers to regular dental care due to a lack of dental insurance, financial constraints, absence of perceived need, and transportation issues. A recent statewide survey of older adults in senior centers documented an unmet need for dental care among seniors living independently in their communities, particularly among those residing in rural areas, and those with limited incomes. Twenty-four percent of older adults have untreated decay and sharp broken teeth.

"Because many seniors have unmet oral health needs, the Department is promoting innovative approaches to dental care to help seniors prevent and control tooth decay," said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of the Division Public Health Services. "Oral health is part of healthy aging; you can’t be healthy without good oral health."

Older adults with urgent dental needs in six selected senior centers who have been identified by hygienists are referred to participating local dental offices, where their treatment is paid for through funds from DHHS. These services are especially important for older adults because poor oral health impacts their nutritional status, social functioning, and overall well-being. As the gateway to the body, the mouth is constantly challenged by bacteria and viruses that cause infection and inflammation. Dental caries (cavities) and the periodontal diseases (such as gingivitis and periodontitis) have been linked to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and cancer.

The Oral Health Program received funds from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to provide seniors with screening assessments, oral health education, and referrals for treatment.

While these programs are important, funding for seniors’ dental screening assessments ends on September 30, 2015. DHHS is raising awareness of the issue to show the importance of sustaining the screening program and adding on-site preventive oral health services to additional sites in the state.

For more information about screening sites or the Oral Health Program in New Hampshire visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/rhpc/oral/index.htm.

 
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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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