I think it is important for the provider to take a look in the mouth to see the status of a patient’s teeth if there are any issues like periodontal disease that need to be addressed because that is an opportunity to potentially make a referral to a low-cost or even free dental service that can help with these issues.” – Dr. Ted SuhHello! Welcome to the Aging Pearls Podcast, where we’re dedicated to providing dental pearls for all those concerned with the oral care needs of our aging population. I am Dr. Christie Hogue and today, we are back with Theodore (Ted) Suh, MD, PhD. He is the ACU Medical Director for the Turner Geriatrics Clinic at the University of Michigan East Ann Arbor Medical Campus and Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine for the University of Michigan Medical School. Currently, Dr. Ted serves as a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Formulary Committee and is Treasurer of the Michigan Geriatrics Society. In this episode, we talk about the importance of insurance and access to dental care for older adults. He also sheds light on the issue of oral neglect in the elderly and offers valuable resources for dental care options.


[00:01 – 05:59] Barriers to Oral Health

  • The connection between oral health and overall health
    • Poor oral health could lead to periodontal disease gingivitis, dental cavities, tooth extraction, poor appetite, and even low self-esteem
  • Reasons why some older adults choose not to have their oral health checked
    • Limited access to dental insurance
    • People invest in oral health during their working years but lose insurance when they retire


[06:00 – 16:47] Promoting Oral Health for Older Adults

  • Dr. Ted on patients with medical complications due to aspiration pneumonia and osteomyelitis
  • An appeal to his medical colleagues to promote basic oral exams when doing physical check-ups for patients to avoid oral neglect
    • What is the geriatric annual wellness visit?

Resources for free and low-cost dental care options:

Sharing some oral health tips for caregivers and health care providers

    • Giving assistance to the elderly for brushing and dental care activities
    • The importance of hydration

[16:48 – 17:48] Final Thoughts

  • Connect with Dr. Christie Hogue – leave a review and comment (links below)


Key Quote:

“Because of the lack of dental insurance, a lot of times old adults don’t get the routine care that they’ve been getting most of their adult lives. Sometimes, people have spent thousands of dollars on their teeth. And then, once they retire and they lose dental benefits, all that dental work over the years gets wasted.” –  Dr. Ted Suh



The association between accessing dental services and nonventilator hospital-acquired pneumonia among 2019 Medicaid beneficiaries

Defining Oral Neglect in Institutionalized Elderly


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