Boston Senior Oral Health Program
July 2013 – Present
Dr. Deborah J. Bowen (BUSPH) and Dr. Michelle Henshaw (Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine)
Joyce Starr, RDH (BUSPH)
Building on our earlier work surrounding the oral health of seniors in public housing, the PHH-PRC launched the Boston Senior Oral Health Program (BSOHP) in July of 2013. Funded by the Sunshine Lady Foundation, BSOHP was established to improve the oral and general health of Boston public housing seniors. The PHH-PRC administers and evaluates BSOHP while continuing to enhance it by engaging both the residents of public housing and the stakeholders in the community. The program will provided free dental and oral cancer screenings for seniors living in Boston Housing Authority senior developments and select family developments. Seniors requiring preventive or curative care will be referred to Fenway Health Center, where their treatment will be free.
The need for this program grew out of research done by the PRC in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Boston Housing Authority. The survey revealed that only 6% of seniors living in Boston’s public housing developments had dental insurance, but 52% were in need of dental treatment and unable to afford it. A shocking 41% of seniors were in need of new dentures and more than a quarter (28%) were found to have potentiall cancerous lesions. Adding to the problem, MassHealth (Medicaid in Massachusetts) is only accepted by 20% of licensed dentists in the Commonwealth, making it difficult to access care, even for those with insurance.
BSOHP provides an opportunity for Boston University’s Partners in Health and Housing Prevention Research Center (PHH-PRC) to make a meaningful impact on the oral and general health status of low income seniors by increasing their access to preventive and restorative dental care.
For more information on the Senior Oral Health program, or to find out when a screening will be in your development, contact Joyce Starr, RHD, Program Manager, at 617-638-5036 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.