Limited Access to Care

Only 43% of elders visit the dentist!


Lack of Insurance Coverage

A major barrier is insurance coverage. Consider the following:

  • 70% of elders lack dental insurance
  • As of September 2021, Medicare does not cover preventive and outpatient dental treatment
  • Medicaid dental coverage varies by state but is limited and often does not cover routine preventive services

Other Barriers to Access

  • Poverty
  • Lack of mobility/transportation
  • Disability
  • Institutionalization
  • Limited evidence-based care guidelines
  • Few specialized geriatric dentists


Henry RG et al. Final Report: Kentucky Elder Oral Health Survey 2005. Lexington, KY: Division of Dental Public Health, College of Dentistry, University of Kentucky, 2005.

Manski RJ, Brown E. Dental use, expenses, private dental coverage, and changes, 1996 and 2004. Rockville, MD; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2007. MEPS Chartbook No 17.

Ettinger R. The Development of Geriatric Dental Education Programs in Canada: an Update, J Canadian Dental Association 2010;76:a1.

Medicare Dental Services, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Accessed on 9/20/2021

U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement; and Health Insurance in the United States: 2015," P60-257, issued September, 2016.

Healthy People 2020-Improving the Health of Americans. 

Friedman PK, Kaufman LB, Karpas SL, Oral health disparity in older adults: Dental decay and tooth loss. Geriatric Dentistry. Dental Clinics of North America. 2014; 58(4): 757-770.

Bush H, et al. Oral health status of older adults in Kentucky: results from the Kentucky Elder Oral Health Survey. Spec. Care Dentist. 2010; 30(5):185-192.

A profile of older Americans 2020. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging. Accessed on 9/20/2021