OP Oral Health 2016 coverThe state of your teeth and general oral health has a huge impact on wellbeing for older people. For the first time older people in aged residential care (rest homes and continuing care hospitals) have been surveyed about their dental health as well as older people living in their own homes and receiving home based care and support. The report Our Older People’s Oral Health was published by the Ministry of Health at the being of April.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne in welcoming the report noted that it “identifies high rates of oral disease and unmet need. This group of older people does not (or in some instances cannot) routinely engage in the oral health care practices that help to reduce disease and maintain oral health”.

Many older people living in residential care had untreated dental health issues, with cost being a significant barrier for many to seek treatment. The report also highlights the impact of ethnic, social and economic factors including low income on people’s ability to access dental care.

Minister Peter Dunne noted that the Government as part of the review of the Health of Older People Strategy is looking at options to improve dental care in aged residential care as well as working with GPs and primary care services to educate older people and their carers about better dental health practices.