The elderly folk in Boston Massachusetts are faced with various difficulties. Amongst the greatest one being inaccessibility of oral and dental health care. Lack of proper oral and dental care amongst the elderly has led to other related conditions, a survey has shown. The reason for this failure has been contributed by; lack of proper management of the publicly owned dental healthcare centers, lack of accessibility of the available services to the underserved populations and lack of information related to oral and dental healthcare among others. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports provide that other diseases that come with lack of oral and dental care are; nutritional conditions, gum diseases and tooth related attacks. Apart from oral and dental healthcare being overlooked by majority, there exist very limited institutions that deal with specialized oral care. In some communities, there is lack of even the institutions that offer general treatment (Mary et al, 2009). This research paper will delve into exploring the hindrances that stand in the way of the elderly accessing oral and dental healthcare in Boston Massachusetts. The issues to be looked into are; dental insurance, cost, transportation and shortage of geriatric dentists among others.
Cost/Transportation of attending Oral and Dental healthcare
CDC reports show that elders that live below the poverty line have three times the likelihood of being attacked by oral or dental diseases. The report also indicates that there is a close relationship between tooth decay or loss to heart diseases. Periodontal disease was the most popular amongst the seniors, aged between 65 and 74. This group has 23% likelihood of contracting periodontal disease. The 2009 survey at MA indicated that 14% of the elderly are edentulous while 20% of them have not had an oral check-up for the last five years (MA, Department of Public Health, 2010). This clearly depict that the services are purely inaccessible due to inflated costs of delivery of the services. Tooth loss and decay always subject the victims to pain and change of eating habits among others. Most of the seniors that live in the far-flung Boston are also not always available for the care. Because there lacks a Dental School that may offer the services at reduced costs, as it happens to Washington, transport becomes a barrier.
Shortage of Geriatric Dentists
The number of specialized dentists fall much below the needs of the services rendered. This has been another barrier to accessing oral and dental services. The level of staffing in the centers that offer these services leave a lot to be desired (Serio, 1998).
Lack of Dental Insurance
The large majority of the elderly in MA does not have insurance covers or do not qualify for MassHealth (Medicaid) insurance. A recent survey by CDC revealed that 79% of the seniors at the meal sites were not covered by dental insurance while about 70% of them were not eligible for Medicaid insurance. The reasons ranged from poverty to lack of information regarding enrolling to the insurance programs. However, most seniors are enrolled in the Medicare Insurance but it does not cover dental and oral aspect of their health.
Oral and dental healthcare are very important to the wholesome health status of an individual; whether aged or young. The residents of Boston MA are engulfed with numerous challenges that act as barriers to their seeking oral and dental care. These barriers include high costs, lack of insurance cover, lack of transportation and limited number of geriatric dentists among others. However, the MertoWest Senior Oral Health Initiative (SOHI) and the Community Health Workers (CHW) have joined hands and are attempting to address the gap in that specific health arena. The two institutions have already set their objectives and set the roadmap of how they are working to eliminate the hindrances that have marred the seniors of Boston MA.
- Mary G., Robin G., and Jennifer P., (2009) Access to care: Specialized Dental Care for Seniors: Boston.
- MA Department of Public Health, Office of Oral Health (2010) The Commonwealth’s High Risk Senior Population: Results and Recommendations from 2009 Statewide Oral Health Assessment, Boston.
- Serio, F. G. (1998). Understanding dental health. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi.