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Many Older Adults Delayed Dental Care During Pandemic

March 29, 2022

By: CareQuest Institute for Oral Health

Surveys of Medicare beneficiaries offer signs pointing to a likely surge in oral disease among older Americans that can be traced to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Older adults in the United States (US) face barriers to accessing dental care, including the cost of care, lack of transportation, and difficulty navigating the oral health care system. The lack of dental care coverage in Medicare exacerbates older adults’ risk for poor oral health outcomes. Disruptions in access to dental care due to the COVID-19 pandemic further worsened oral health disparities. To learn more about Americans’ challenges during the pandemic, CareQuest Institute for Oral Health analyzed responses from three surveys of Medicare beneficiaries conducted by federal health officials. These surveys, part of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), show that the fear and disruption caused by COVID-19 led many older adults to delay some form of health care. Dental care was one of the leading types of care
postponed by Medicare beneficiaries. Findings from the three MCBS surveys are consistent with the
results from two recent surveys commissioned by CareQuest Institute during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please click here to read this research brief in full as a pdf.