Military veterans have unique oral health needs, often related to service-connected disabilities, exposure to hazardous materials, and trauma experienced during military service. As veterans age, they may face additional challenges in accessing oral health care, particularly if they require long-term care.
This article will explore the link between military veteran care among senior patients, long-term care, and pharmacies in promoting oral health.
Veterans’ Oral Health Care Needs
Veterans are at higher risk for oral health issues due to factors such as exposure to environmental hazards and service-related trauma. For example, veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War may be at higher risk for oral cancer. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may also be at a higher risk for periodontal disease due to stress-related oral hygiene issues. It is crucial that veterans receive regular oral health care to address these issues and prevent more severe oral health problems.
Long-Term Care for Veterans
Many veterans require long-term care due to service-related disabilities or age-related health issues. Long-term care facilities should prioritize oral health care for veterans, including regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and oral hygiene instruction. Long-term care facilities can also collaborate with local VA medical centers to ensure that veterans receive the necessary oral health care.
Pharmacies and Veteran Oral Health
Pharmacies can also play a crucial role in promoting oral health among veterans. Many pharmacies offer oral health products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash, as well as oral health screening services. Some pharmacies even provide dental care services such as cleanings and fluoride treatments, making it easier for veterans to access dental care.
Cost and Insurance Coverage
Cost and insurance coverage can be significant barriers to dental care for veterans, particularly those who do not receive dental care through the VA. Many veterans may be on a fixed income and cannot afford the cost of regular dental care. However, some Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage, and some states provide dental care services to low-income seniors through Medicaid.
Improving Oral Health Care for Veterans
To improve oral health care for veterans, there needs to be greater awareness of the unique oral health needs of veterans and the importance of oral health in overall health and quality of life. Education campaigns can emphasize the importance of regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene practices, and the availability of dental care services in long-term care facilities and pharmacies. Policy changes can also increase access to affordable dental care for veterans, such as expanding VA dental care eligibility and providing dental care services through Medicare.
In conclusion, military veterans have unique oral health needs, and long-term care facilities and pharmacies can play a vital role in promoting oral health care among veterans. By prioritizing oral health care and providing access to dental care products and services, we can ensure that veterans maintain good oral health and overall health as they age.