New Study: Seniors Need Better Dental Health Care

By Charmaine Gooden

Seniors in Ontario, especially women, are not visiting the dentist regularly, increasing their risk of developing serious oral health and chronic illnesses, says a study released by Women’s College Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). The study shows that 45% of Ontarians 65 years and older did not see a dentist in the last year. This seems to be a greater challenge for who make up the major portion of Ontario’s senior population. Tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, bone loss, and even some types of cancer. Regular dental checkups may reveal early warning signs of many diseases. Even though Canada has universal healthcare, dental visits are not covered by the government.

“Poor oral health can contribute to many serious medical conditions and affect a person’s ability to chew and digest food properly, leading to inadequate nutrition,” explains Dr. Arlene Bierman, principal investigator of the study. “With dental services not covered under our universal health-insurance program and many older adults not visiting dentists regularly, the findings suggest we need to rethink the services we provide to help keep seniors healthy as they age.” Researchers suggested that more preventative methods be made to ensure that the older population is getting the dental attention they need.