MEDIA RELEASE: Dental boost makes older Australians smile

Older Australians will welcome the federal government’s commitment to dental care announced today especially measures for pensioners in rural and remote areas, COTA Australia said.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said recognition of the oral health needs of older people was long overdue.

“Older people are particularly susceptible to poor oral health as many of the preventative measures we use today, such as fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water, were only introduced in the 1960s, Mr Yates said.

“As such the incidence of gum disease and decay is nearly twice as prevalent in seniors than in young people.

“The National Advisory Council on Dental Health report released earlier this year identified that older people on low incomes and those in residential care were particularly at risk.

“This risk is exacerbated in rural and remote areas where access to good dentistry is often patchy.

“Cost also prohibits many older people from having regular dental check ups which often leads to other health complications and a focus on emergency treatment rather than prevention.

“This is a national health issue which was reaching crisis point and we congratulate the government and Greens on reaching agreement on moving forward. It will be vital that States maintain their current levels of funding also.”

Mr Yates said it was not widely understood that poor oral health can lead to more serious conditions.

“Gum disease and infection is not only painful and can cause tooth loss but can indirectly lead to more chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke and even pancreatic cancer.

“Addressing the oral health of older Australians will assist them in their quest for healthy ageing.”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Anastasia Stomo 043 224 3389