Independence — it’s what most older adults desire from their golden years. And indeed, today’s older adults are living more independently than previous generations.

A helping hand

With so many older adults today remaining in their communities as opposed to institutional settings, increasingly more services and programs cater to this segment of the population. Instead of having no choice but to go to a long-term care facility, now services that help older adults remain in their homes and communities are the norm— adult day centers, home care nurses, senior centers, transportation programs, and more. Today only 9 percent of older adults live in a long term care setting.

"Maintaining healthy dentition is one of the keys to independence as we age. Without the ability to comfortably chew, older people have trouble eating a nutritious diet."

But what about their mouths? Maintaining healthy dentition is one of the keys to independence as we age. Without the ability to comfortably chew, older people have trouble eating a nutritious diet.

And yet even though we know this, resources for oral health remain conspicuously absent from home and community-based services and are largely disconnected and difficult to access. New programs for older adults increasingly focus on helping older adults take charge of their health, and yet few resources are specifically for older adult oral health in communities.

Improving outcomes

Oral Health America’s Wisdom Tooth Project strives to change this by empowering older adults with the tools and access they need to maintain healthy mouths and subsequently healthy, pain-free, independent lives. In 2008, OHA made the decision to focus on older adults, and in 2011, the Wisdom Tooth Project was born with three goals: to connect older adults to resources, to educate and to advocate, all through a variety of projects. Overall, improved overall health through oral health will lead to greater independence as we age, and OHA is committed to the cause of older mouths.