Oral Healthcare and Care Coordination
Every Senior Deserves a Smile.
Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center
Our nation needs an improved oral healthcare policy to address the severe inequities in accessing oral healthcare and change the mindset that dental care should be considered a key element of ensuring overall health and well-being. Research, policy and advocacy are part of our ongoing efforts to affect change at a national level.
According to San Diego County’s 2012 Survey of Older Americans, not being able to afford dental care was the most commonly reported health problem. The CDC also reports only about 60 percent saw a dentist in the past year. Dental visits are even more scarce among low-income seniors and racial and ethnic minorities. Medicare, the largest health provider for seniors, does not cover routine dental care nor is dental included under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid coverage varies by state, but the reimbursement dentists receive is so low, it is unsustainable for practices to provide these critical services to seniors.
The new Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center is unique, taking a comprehensive and coordinated approach to addressing the dental needs of seniors with an emphasis on oral health education and preventive care.
Every patient receives a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment through a senior care navigator who coordinates the patient’s health, dental and social support needs and also participates in an oral healthcare education to learn preventive care.
In addition, the Gary and Mary West Health Institute is leading research efforts with the Senior Dental Center and other partners to study this integrated approach to care in terms of improvement in overall healthcare outcomes and feasibility for broader replication throughout the country.
We are conducting research to demonstrate how this innovative model provides access to high-quality services, positively impacts health outcomes, while lowering costs. Research will inform policy work designed to drive payment reform and new legislation.
Finally, the Senior Dental Center will provide leadership in advocating for improved coverage and access to comprehensive, quality oral health services for all low-income seniors.
Helping seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives. The new mission had to clearly demonstrate our core values and for us, it is all about changing and saving the lives of seniors struggling to meet their basic needs.See Serving Seniors
Oral Health Should Not Take a Backseat to General Health, Particularly for Seniors in Need Infographic
Despite major advances in dentistry and the ability to prevent many oral healthcare issues, dental disease remains a significant and widespread public health problem in America.