Benzie County Senior Oral Health Programme Expands to Treat Expensive Dental Problems

A dental programme for seniors just got a grant that will help expand services. A 150-dollar voucher that participating dental clinics match gets qualifying seniors free check-ups and dental work.

A 4,000 dollar grant was awarded to the Benzie County Senior Oral Health Programme. That money will go toward helping patients with follow-up issues after check-ups — both small and large.

“With my wife being sick with cancer for the past four years and everything, money’s been really tight,” said Honour Resident Bert Lappe.

The Benzie County Senior Oral Health Programme has been a lifesaver for Lappe. Before getting the grant, the Benzie County Council on Ageing connected him with the county’s Veterans Affairs to get started on the oral healthcare Lappe needs.

“I neglected my health for a long time after she got sick and that. So I’m trying to catch up. So I just had ten teeth pulled and I’m waiting now to get some new teeth pulled in.”

The programme helped 50 seniors get into dentists’ offices last year, including the Lappes.

Patients get a 150-dollar voucher that a participating dental office matches. That’s enough for a check-up and minor dental work – but sometimes, patients need more.

“Most patients are coming back with the need to pull majority of their teeth. They’re infected/decayed and the gum lines are just not there anymore,” said Benzie County Council on Aging Director Douglas Durand.

The grant’s a step toward paying for those more expensive dental procedures. Problems can get worse if they aren’t addressed.

“I worked in a doctor’s office. And a lot of people who don’t take care of their teeth have a big risk in getting other infections, other diseases because of not taking care of their teeth,” said Gail Lappe.

For a county with 5,000 seniors, 33 per cent of the population is potentially eligible.

Bert Lappe understands dental health can fall by the wayside, but says it’s worth it to try and maintain that care. “I’m glad to get rid of some of those teeth, it feels a lot better. I’m looking forward to getting some of my new teeth.”– by Adora Namigadde, 9&10 News