Oral Health America Introduces State Spotlight Series

Following the release of A State of Decay, Vol. IV, a state by state analysis of the oral health of older adults 65+, Oral Health America (OHA) is introducing a State Spotlight series to ‘go beyond the score’ to share the actions and strategies of invested state oral health stakeholders working to improve the oral health of older adults in their state.

A State of Decay, Vol. IV gives a rating of “Poor,” “Fair,” “Good” or “Excellent” based on state-level data analyzing six variables impacting older adult oral health: Severe Tooth Loss (loss of 6+ teeth), Dental Visits, Adult Medicaid Dental Benefits, Community Water Fluoridation, State Oral Health Plans and Basic Screening Surveys. For the first time, A State of Decay, Vol. IV adds a national analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) individual data on severe tooth loss and recent dental visits by considering associations with sociodemographic factors.

With an expected 72.1 million seniors living in the United States by 2030, OHA’s A State of Decay, Vol. IV illustrates progress in some areas and the need for continued action to ensure America’s rapidly growing population of seniors age healthily and independently.

Included in the initial publication of the report, OHA interviewed stakeholders in California, Alabama, Mississippi and Iowa to report on the efforts that couldn’t be captured by the six variables. From the spotlights, OHA learned how states are taking creative approaches to improve oral health outcomes of older adults. For example, Mississippi ranked last in the latest report, but is working across various public health departments to promote a ‘culture of health’ and raise awareness of oral health’s systemic link to chronic diseases.

The latest spotlight features Arkansas and, despite falling in the rankings in the latest report, recent improvements won’t keep them there for long. Read how Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation took the state’s rate of community water fluoridation from average to stellar in just a short amount of time and how interprofessional collaboration and education to providers, families and caregivers are reducing barriers to care for aging Arkansans.

Through A State of Decay State Spotlight series, OHA continues to lead the way toward healthier mouths for older adults. States, advocates and public health coalitions that share OHA’s commitment can use the State Spotlights to connect with one another, share strategies and inspire action to help adults age successfully.