The dental health needs of low-income older adults have been neglected, especially in California, which ranks 30th among the states in dental care for older adults. Yet, oral health is a critical aspect of overall health for older adults. Untreated dental decay and tooth loss can not only lead to pain and difficulty eating, but also the worsening of chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

The oral health needs of low-income older Californians is a new area of advocacy for Justice in Aging, launched in July 2016.

This new project aims to improve oral health for older adults through educating local advocates and service providers on how they can help the older adults they serve access oral health care. We will also strongly advocate for both state and national policy changes to improve oral health care for California’s low-income older adults.

To kick off the new project, we released an issue brief and partnered with the Center for Oral Health in a webinar summarizing the unique needs of older adults.

Advocate Resources

Other Resources


April 2019: New Bill Would Improve Access to Dental Care for Seniors, People with Disabilities, and Low-Income Populations
April 2019: A Dental Benefit in Medicare: Examining the Need in CA (California Dental Association, copyright April 2019)
March 2019: A Deep Dive into the Connections Between Oral and Behavioral Health (Families USA)
March 2019: Drilling Down on Dental Coverage and Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries (Kaiser Family Foundation)
December 2018: Fact Sheet: For Rural Seniors, Improving Overall Health Requires Improving Oral Health Care (Families USA)
November 2018: Surgeon General listening sessions on oral health. Part One, Part Two, and Part Three
November 2018: Report on Progress Towards the 2018 Milestones (Oral Health Progress and Equity Network)
October 2018: Oral Health America Medicare Dental Advocacy Toolkit
August 2018: California’s Seniors Would Benefit from Medicare Oral Health Coverage (Families USA)
July 2018: An Oral Health Benefit in Medicare Part B: It’s Time to Include
Oral Health in Health Care (Oral Health America)
March 2018: A Healthy Smile Never Gets Old: A California Report on the Oral Health of Older Adults (Center for Oral Health)
January 2018: California Oral Health Plan 2018-2028 (California Department of Public Health)
January 2018: Reframing Oral Health – A Communications Toolkit for Advancing Oral Health Reform 
November 2017: Little Hoover Commission Letter, Denti-Cal Program is Still Broken
April 2017: Status of Oral Health in California-Oral Disease Burden and Prevention 2017
April 2016: Little Hoover Commission Report
April 2016: A Talk with the Head of California’s Troubled Dental Program (California Healthline)
2016: Oral Health America: A State of Decay
December 2014: State Audit (that caused the Little Hoover Report)

Beyond Lip Service Dental Blogs

April 9, 2019 in CA Health Network Alert, IN THE NEWS, Medicare, Oral Health

A Dental Benefit in Medicare: Examining the Need in California

California Dental Association: A Dental Benefit in Medicare: Examining the Need in CA (copyright April 2019) Justice in Aging's Executive Director Kevin Prindiville and Director of…
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January 23, 2019 in ISSUE BRIEF, Medicare, Oral Health, REPORTS

Issue Brief: Creating an Oral Health Benefit in Medicare

Fewer than half of older adults have access to oral health care each year. One in five older adults has untreated tooth decay and 70…
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December 19, 2018 in Economic Security, Health Care, Health Care Defense, Health Disparities, Health Equity, Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare, Nursing Homes, Oral Health, Safety Net Defense, SENIOR POVERTY, Social Security, Special Report, Supplemental Security Income

Report: Older Women & Poverty

Because of structural inequities that impact women more than men, a significant percentage of older women are struggling to stay out of poverty. There are…
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