Issue Brief Examines Oral Health for Older Adults in California

Justice in Aging, one of the Center’s longtime partners, recently released an issue brief, Oral Health in California: What About Older Adults? The Issue Brief includes a summary of the state of oral health for older adults in California. It cites disparities in oral health based on income level, education and race.

The Brief also outlines the unique barriers to oral health care that older adults face in California. These include the low Medicaid reimbursement rates for dental services in California, among the lowest in the country; the correspondingly low provider participation; administrative problems with Denti-Cal, the program under California’s Medicaid responsible for offering dental service; and the fact that considerations of oral health needs specific to older adults have been essentially left out of California’s discussions on how to improve oral healthcare. The brief cites some troubling statistics for California: only one in four California dental providers provide services to Denti-Cal enrollees, and California is currently ranked 30th in the nation with regard to how it addresses oral health for older adults.

The brief presents high-level recommendations to begin improving oral health for older adults. These include: improving provider access; including older adults in a state oral health plan; expanding covered services; streamlining program administration; creating incentives to treat older adults; and promoting co-location of services.

Oral Health in California: What About Older Adults? is available at: