Why oral health needs to be a priority for seniors!

Did you know that in Canada 18.5% of our population is seniors and 56% of seniors don’t have dental benefits?

Seniors are living longer and healthier and longer lives but the unavailability of dental insurance for seniors is putting them at risk.

A recent article in the globe and mail talked about why oral health needs to be made a priority in our universal health care.

We are expected to see a rising population of seniors and their oral health is critical to their well-being according to Renata Albonese a hygenist with the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA).

Unfortunately with prices increasing and government funding potentially decreasing many seniors can’t afford oral health care.

What could poor oral health represent for seniors?

Leading dental researchers have found links between poor oral health and the worsening of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthma, and pneumonia.

Renata Albonese was quoted saying “Within today’s aging population, people are keeping their natural teeth longer, which means that maintaining good oral hygiene is more important than ever,” says Albonese. Elderly people are more susceptible to tooth loss, tooth decay (dental caries), gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), dry mouth (xerostomia), and oral cancers.

Unfortunately, especially seniors in long-term care that also have fixed incomes will not be able to afford the care they desperately need.

What is the impact of Canadians avoiding dental care?

The CHDA expects the trend of Canadians skipping oral health care to continue without government intervention.  They feel that this will impact health care in Canada overall because poor oral health can lead to a number of harmful diseases.  Due to Covid-19 long-term care homes and services became a big focus, but as a result, very little focus was paid to the oral health of seniors which has had a negative impact on seniors’ quality of life.

Why is oral health important for overall health?  

Oral health care is focused on preventing more significant health issues.  In a study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, it was stated that 1% of emergency room visits consist of people that should be visiting a dentist but cannot afford it.

Did you know that millions of tax dollars each year are going towards preventable dental conditions for which the Canadian government will only pick up 6% of the cost?  Although, we may reach a day where we won’t have to rely on the private sector as heavily for dental costs it is important to prevent more serious dental emergencies that may be required.

What has Covid-19 taught us about our oral health?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that it is important for us to focus on preventing medical diseases, illness, and pain. This way our emergency room can focus on unavoidable emergencies like car accidents and life-threatening situations instead of dental pain.  With the need for oral health care on the rise and any government public health assistance questionable, it is important to plan as though we will not receive any assistance.

How you can prioritize your overall health with dental care?

1.  First and foremost if you are fortunate enough to have dental benefits through a private insurance plan make sure you are using them at least two times a year.

2.  You can purchase private insurance from (Sun Life, TD Insurance, Manulife, etc) at a monthly rate that is affordable.

3.  You can utilize an emergency fund to prevent an emergency from occurring.  Poor oral health can lead to diseases that are not only very expensive but will also decrease your quality of life (i.e. heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Root Canals, gum disease, etc).

Although the cost of just about everything is rising (housing, food, gas, etc) oral health care is one area where it is important to prioritize.  Ultimately, the decision that a lot of Canadians are making during the Covid-19 pandemic of avoiding going to the dentist will cost them more money and pain in the upcoming years.

If you would like to ask our dental clinic in London, Ontario, any questions or schedule an appointment you can use our Request An Appointment form, email us at Info@sbenatidentistry.ca, or give us a call at (519)-474-0220