People are already noticing, the 68-year-old said.
"I ask people how I look like, and they say, 'Oh, you are so beautiful,'" Greeno said, throwing her head back and clapping her hands with excitement.
The benefits of having a full set of teeth are not just cosmetic.
"Now I can speak very well. I can pronounce my words. Before it was always, 'I can't understand what you're saying,'" Greeno said.
The program is designed to serve low-income seniors living on less than
Every patient receives a comprehensive health assessment from a specially trained "senior care navigator" who can identify other medical issues and connect people to other services, many of which are also available at the senior center.
Each visit is a chance to make sure prescribed medications are being taken, social problems are being addressed and nutritious food is being consumed, said Dr.
"This is not just about extracting teeth or getting checkups. This is really about how do you prevent these illnesses that can lead to heart disease and diabetes and high blood pressure," Agha said.
Oral health is increasingly linked to overall health, with many chronic conditions, including harmful infections, often starting in the mouth. A recent study from Oral Health America, a national nonprofit that advocates for better dental care, found that 4 million emergency room visits from 2008 to 2010 involved a dental condition. Also, the group estimated that 59 percent of low-income older adults have no dental insurance.
"I'd say they are going above and beyond what others have been doing," Truett said.
She added that demonstrating, through valid research, that these kinds of programs can save money in the long run by preventing hospital visits is what's needed to reach the bigger goal: getting programs such as
"We can't treat our way out of this issue. There has got to be a measure of prevention and counseling in these programs, because it costs too much, and there are not enough providers to just keep doing things the way we're doing them now," Truett said.
So far the clinic has treated 150 people. The operation is run by Dr.
Becerra said it was the senior center's meal service that initially got her involved. While serving those meals as a volunteer, she noticed that many people were missing teeth, fillings, dentures and other dental necessities.
"I saw that they had an opportunity to get a nutritious meal, but without teeth, they couldn't eat the food," Becerra said.
In its 10-year history, the foundation has given out 400 grants totaling
To learn more, visit seniordentalcenter.org.
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