Goal #1: Document the Oral Health Needs of Older Adults with a Needs Assesment

Goal #1: Document the Oral Health Needs of Older Adults

Complete and consistent data related to oral health is critical to:

  1. Improve understanding about the oral health status of population groups across the lifespan (e.g. children, pregnant women, older adults, communities of color) including disease trends and disparities in oral health; and
  2. Inform the development of strategic and community-based interventions, measure access to and utilization of care, mobilize resources, and develop public health policy.

Knowing the magnitude and depth of the healthcare needs of older adults is essential for planning, implementing, and evaluating public health practice and, ideally, is closely integrated with data dissemination to policy-makers, public health decision makers and other stakeholders. Indeed, the overarching purpose of the Assessment of Oral Health Care Needs of California’s Older Adults is to provide actionable health information to guide public health policy and programs.

The assessment will be divided into two phases – the first being of more vulnerable, traditionally considered “institutionalized” adults in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, the second being of “community dwelling individuals, those most likely living in their own homes, or independently.

Seventy-one facilities have been selected to participate in this assessment. Information on the facilities and how they were selected is coming soon.

The Advisory Committee

Guiding the assessment is an advisory committee consisting of representatives from key stakeholder organizations.

Committee Members:

Conrado Bárzaga, MD – Center for Oral Health

Martiza Cabezas, DDS – Los Angeles Department of Public Health

Paul Glassman, DDS – University of the Pacific, Arthur A Dugoni School of Dentistry

Dick Gregory, DDS – Apple Tree Dental, San Mateo and the California Dental Association

Lisa Hall – California Association of Health Facilities

Lisa Handa, RDHAP – Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice

Denise Hope Frances, DDS – Lutheran Medical Center, Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency

Susan Hyde, DDS – University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry

Tippy Irwin – Ombudsman Services of San Mateo County

Jeffrey Kim – The California Wellness Foundation

Susan McLearan, RDHAP – California Dental Hygienists Association RDHAP Council

Roseann Mulligan, DDS – University of Southern California, Ostrow School of Dentistry

Kathy Phipps – Oral Health Epidemiologist, Consultant

Calix Ramos, DDS – Lutheran Medical Center, Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency

Neal Rosenblatt – California Department of Public Health

The committee brings unique knowledge and skills, provides key information, gathers input from/serve as a liaison with relevant constituencies, provides feedback from the community, provides technical expertise, and makes final recommendations based on the assessment.

Assessment Methods

The information gathered through this project is at a level consistent with monitoring the health of the population, such as the health objectives found in the United States Public Health Service’s Healthy People document.  Surveys are cross sectional (looking at a population at a point in time), and descriptive (to determine estimates of oral health status for a defined population). The screening is not a thorough clinical examination and does not involve making a clinical diagnosis resulting in a treatment plan. A screening is intended to identify gross dental or oral lesions.

How will data be collected?

Oral Health Assessment of Older Adults will use the Basic Screening Survey (BSS) surveillance tool to assess the oral health of older adult populations. The Basic Screening Survey is a nationally standardized tool developed by the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) in conjunction with the CDC. 

The BSS model has two basic components: (1) direct observation of a person’s mouth; and (2) questions asked of, or about, the individual being screened. Direct observation of individuals will be completed by licensed dental professionals: Registered Dental Hygienists, Registered Dental Hygienists in Alternative Practice, Dentists, and Dental Residents.

Indicators to be collected: Age, sex, race/ethnicity, presence or absence of teeth by upper and lower jaw, presence of denture, mobility, gingival inflammation, caries.