Residents of living care facilities have specialized dental care needs. There is a strong connection between oral health and general health for this population. Bacteria from gum infections can increase the development of the plaques that cause strokes and heart attacks and breathing these bacteria is a significant risk factor in contracting pneumonia. Even if a resident has no teeth or dentures, they still need to be seen by a dentist for oral care screenings.

Why Dental?

Oral health affects general health of everyone especially among residents of long term care facilities,:

  • Many medications leave the resident more susceptible to oral bacteria and infection.
  • Bacteria from gum infections can increase the development of the plaques that cause strokes and heart attacks.
  • Breathing the bacteria from gum infections is a significant risk factor in contracting pneumonia. Estimates of the percentage of long term care residents with unmet dental needs range from 80% to 96% – with up to 78% having untreated tooth decay and 40% with periodontal disease. Oral cancer kills more people each year than cervical cancer and skin cancer combined. The older a person is, the more susceptible they are to oral cancer. Dental examinations can help to detect oral cancer.
  • Long term care residents may have trouble communicating the source of pain, resulting in a failure to diagnose oral issues by the facility staff.

Why Dental If There Are No Teeth?

  • The bacteria and infection issues noted in “Why Dental?” can come from the gums, not the teeth, with the related risks of pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack.
  • The oral cancer risks noted in “Why Dental?” are not related to the presence of teeth.
  • The bone structure of the mouth changes over time, meaning dentures need to be adjusted.
  • If residents cannot chew properly or without pain due to ill-fitting dentures or the lack of dentures, their ability to eat healthy food is reduced with serious general health implications.

With the Special Care Insurance Program offered through SeniorWorks:

  • Dental providers go inside the facility to treat the residents using state-of-the-art portable equipment frequency about 3-4 times per year.
  • The services are funded through fully insured dental insurance with no co-payments and no deductibles for in-network services.
  • The dental insurance premiums are an allowable deduction under Medicaid, meaning that for eligible Medicaid residents the insurance premiums can be paid with no additional out-of-pocket cost as Medicaid offsets the cost.
  • The broad range of oral procedures includes (but not limited to) exams, x-rays, cleaning, extractions, fillings, dentures, new relines, repairs.
  • Dental Hygienist’s visit at least twice per year.
  • Oral health care in-service for your staff.

Typical Procedures

Procedures include but are not limited to the following:

  • Comprehensive dental examinations including digital radiography.
  • Basic and advanced level cleanings for treatment of periodontal disease.
  • Placement of fillings in teeth with decay.
  • Fabrication and repair of dentures. (resident must be on program 6 months to get dentures)
  • Simple extractions of problematic teeth.