Dental Health | Aging Matters | Dental Extractions | NPT Reports

Dental Health | Aging Matters | Dental Extractions | NPT Reports


– [Narrator] NPT Reports: Aging Matters. (dramatic music) – Everyday I see someone who comes in that has to have a tooth pulled. And I wish that wasn’t the case, but everyday I extract a tooth. – [Narrator] Dr. Michele Blackledge is dental director at Neighborhood Health. She’s observed firsthand the prevalence of extraction in Tennessee, and is especially concerned for the wellbeing of older adults. – [Dr. Blackledge] I think people wait, especially our older generation, they wait until they get into
a situation they can’t handle. – [Narrator] More than
20% of Tennesseans over 65 have had all their
natural teeth extracted. That’s compared to less
than 15% of all Americans. – That’s an issue because I think it becomes part of a monetary thing. Is it cheeper to get a tooth pulled or cheaper to get a tooth filled? And people will say you know what, I’ll pay 25 dollars to
get that tooth pulled versus 1,000 dollars for
a root canal and a crown. – [Narrator] For many older
adults, cost is a concern. Medicare does not cover dental expenses, and in Tennessee there
is no dental benefit for adults on Medicaid. Nevertheless, while a simple
extraction can be inexpensive, the consequences to one’s
health can be costly. – Our older generation
when they loose teeth, nutrition is a big thing. It’s for healing, it’s for growth. Self-esteem is a big issue. They won’t eat in front of anybody. – [Narrator] Dr. Blackledge
wants individuals to see a dentist long before a tooth extraction is necessary, so her clinic is joining a network of charitable providers
from around the state. The network is called Smile on 60+, and their goal is to provide
affordable dental care to low income Tennesseeans
60 years and older. – I think if we just spend
a little bit more time letting people know the
benefits of saving a tooth, we could save teeth. (dramatic music)

Author: Kevin Mason

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