Mt. Sinai Study: Many Homebound Elderly Patients in NYC are Not Receiving Dental Care
96% of Study Participants Had Not Seen a Dentist Since Becoming Homebound
By David Blende, DDS, Dentist, DPC Journal Contributing Writer
JUNE 29, 2014 — More than 20 percent of New York City’s population over the age of 60 is mobility and/or self-care impaired, and this number is growing. Concierge physicians, particularly those practicing in urban areas such as New York City, may be interested in recent data pointing to a severe lack of dental care among the elderly population.
A study within the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctor program assessed the oral health status, dental utilization and dental needs of homebound elderly care patients. Findings show their oral health status was poor and their quality of life was significantly affected by a lack of basic dental care: 92% needed some type of dental treatment beyond oral hygiene needs.
Other findings include:
Dentate Patients (those with teeth) (76%)
- 40 percent needed restorative care
- 46 percent needed dental extractions
Edentulous (toothless) Patients (24%)
- Without dentures: 18 percent needed a full denture for one or both arches, and 64 percent (partially edentulous) needed dentures to replace missing teeth.
- With dentures: 26 percent had inadequate denture integrity and 68 percent had compromised occlusion. 59 percent of denture wearers complained about their denture.
- 33 percent reported having current dental/oral pain
- 50 percent stated that they “often or always” had problems in four major oral health categories: 1) the overall condition of their mouth, 2) their chewing ability, 3) their oral health fears and concerns, and 4) their decreased ability to socialize.
Despite the clear need demonstrated by these statistics, 96 percent of study participants stated that they had not seen a dentist since they became homebound, typically three to six years prior – and 93 percent of study participants answered that they would be interested in receiving dental care at home.
Concierge physicians should take a moment to think about the patient charts on their shelves and evaluate whether any of them may require in-home dental care.
Dr. David Blende is founder of House Call Dentists, which provides at-home dental services to patients in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area who value high quality care in the privacy and comfort of their homes. http://www.housecalldentists.com/
 New York City’s Department for the Aging, Profile of Older New Yorkers, February 26, 2010 http://www.disabled-world.com/news/america/newyork/
 Gluzman, R. et al (2013, Sept/Oct). Oral health status and needs of homebound elderly in an urban home-based primarycare service. Special Care in Dentistry, pages 218–226.