Oral health problems are at a crisis level nationally, affecting people of all ages but worsening later in life; and the populations with the greatest need for dental treatment have the least access (Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders, “Dental Crisis in America: The Need to Expand Access”). Older adults living in continuing care communities, in particular, experience significant barriers preventing them from receiving adequate dental care. The largest factors include (1) the lack of transportation; (2) the absence of dedicated dental operatories in 90 percent of facilities; (3) limited access to traditional insurance among older adults.
The program will provide comprehensive dental care for approximately 3,000 older adult patients throughout Greater Cleveland by establishing working partnerships with continuing care communities. A mobile-portable hybrid will be employed to maximize efficiency and efficacy, consisting of a 35-foot handicap-accessible van with two built-in treatment stations as well as two portable units for triage, cleaning, and treatment outside of the van. The program will emphasize treatment for underserved older adults who lack proper access to dental care because of financial, mobility, mental health, or other limitations, with the aim of improving the quality of life, health, and well-being of these individuals.
The primary goals of the project are two-fold: