Oral Health America Receives $668,000 Grant to Help Elderly

February 28, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

The DentaQuest foundation has awarded Oral Health America with a $668,000 grant to better address the oral health needs of older Americans. OHA will use the money to bolster its Wisdom Tooth Project, which helps educate older adults and their caregivers about oral health. The group will also use the grant to connect older Americans with dental services.

The grant money will be used to expand the Wisdom Tooth Project, which helps educate older Americans and their caregivers about dental health.

Oral Health America (OHA), a national non-profit organization supporting the American Dental Association has been awarded a grant of $668,000 to provide better dental education and services to older Americans.

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The grant money will be used to expand the Wisdom Tooth Project, which was created to help educate older adults and their caregivers about dental care and connect them with dental professionals to obtain much needed dental services.

Part of the Wisdom Tooth Project also includes advocating for better oral health for older Americans and connecting at-risk communities with resources and support to increase access to dental care. Since 2009, the Wisdom Tooth Project has implemented Five Strategies to help remove some of the barriers older Americans face when trying to receive needed oral care:

1. ToothWisdom.org: This website connects older adults, caregivers, and health care providers to oral health resources. Older adults can look for local care, access educational resources, and act to help promote national oral health policies.

2. Demonstration projects: In 2015, OHA completed a project targeting pharmacists to help them be better prepared to answer any oral health questions older adults might have.

3. Advocacy: OHA has long been an advocate of a national adult dental benefit in publicly funded health insurance. The organization consistently takes steps to educate the public and legislators about barriers older adults face when attempting to access dental care.

4. Professional symposia: OHA hosts meetings at state and national levels to bring together diverse groups of healthcare professionals and community leaders. The goal of these meetings is to inspire and implement change to improve the oral health of older adults.

5. Health education and communications: OHA developed a health education curriculum, “Tooth Wisdom: Get Smart About Your Mouth,” to be delivered in community settings. Pilot programs have taken place across the country.

The grant was awarded to OHA by the DentaQuest Foundation, which has been a supporter of OHA’s mission since 2010. It is hoped that the grant money will allow OHA to strengthen their oral health and aging network, focusing attention on the relationship between oral health and total body health. The organization aims to target legislators, advocacy groups, and consumers with their message.