Older Americans with the poorest oral health are those who are economically disadvantaged, lack insurance and are members of racial and ethnic minorities. Oral hygiene for people in nursing facilities disabled, homebound, or institutionalized is generally lacking too.
Many older Americans do not have dental insurance. Often these benefits are lost when they retire. The situation may be worse for older women, who generally have lower incomes and may never have had dental insurance.
Medicaid, the jointly-funded Federal-State health insurance program for certain low-income and needy people, funds dental care for low income and disabled elderly in some states, but reimbursements for this care are low. Medicare, which provides health insurance for people over age 65 and certain people with disabilities, was not designed to provide routine dental care.
Regardless of whether an individual is physically handicapped, mentally retarded, or live in a nursing facility, good oral hygiene is essential for a healthy life.