October is Dental Hygiene Awareness Month, and a new report indicates that many seniors may not be doing everything necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
The report, released by Oral Health America, revealed that, in dental health assessments of the 50 states, close to 50% scored a "fair" or "poor" grade. Two of the states with the lowest scores were Florida and Arizona, both of which have a large senior population.
Ira Lamster, professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, noted that individuals who are 65 and older are vulnerable to dental health issues because they often lack insurance benefits that cover the cost of routine checkups.
"Older adults face significant health challenges if their oral health is poor, and there is no coordinated program to help fund necessary services," said Lamster.
The report found that 42% of U.S. states provide no dental health benefits or only partial coverage through Medicaid. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of states lack a sufficient number of dental health professionals.