Good Oral Health for Life: Introduction

Who wants to feel as healthy as possible, prevent pain, and reduce health care expenses? We all may experience physical changes as we age that include aching joints, hypertension, diabetes, and reduced mobility. Too often, the condition of our teeth and gums gets overlooked. It may come as a surprise to many folks that the health or disease status of our mouth can directly affect our overall health.  With that in mind, there is some very good news for Georgia’s seniors.

Increased Access to Preventive Dental Services is on the Horizon in Georgia!

After a successful collaborative effort by the House HHS Chair (Sharon Cooper), the Georgia Dental Hygienists’ Association (GDHA), the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE), the Georgia Dental Association and many others, HB 154 was signed into law by Governor Deal on May 8, 2017. To increase access to preventive dental services, such as oral assessments and cleanings, Georgia dentists may authorize dental hygienists to provide these dental services in long- term care settings and hospitals without the dentist being present. This new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Increased Access to preventive dental services will help Georgia’s seniors improve their health and save money.

Next Month: What’s the big deal about gum disease and its prevention?

 Over the next few months, we will share a series of articles written by Pam Cushenan, MS TDEV, RDH, ATI, about oral health care for older Georgians. This series will be published in the lead up the January 1, 2018 date in which the CO-AGE Oral Health Care priority takes effect. You can view the series on our website here.


Pam Cushenan, MS TDEV, RDH, ATI, Is a licensed practitioner of dental hygiene since 1987 and the CEO and founder of SOFT Smiles, LLC in 2006. After many years of working with older adults and cognitively impaired patients, she developed the SOFT SmilesTM training program for caregivers of aging special needs patients. Pam has devoted much time and energy to developing resources and reaching an ever-growing number of caregivers across Georgia. She conducts education and training courses for families, care providers, and health professionals to provide them with the latest information in addressing the needs of this special population. In addition, she makes time to provide preventive oral care services to elders in long-term care settings.

In 2005, she joined the faculty of Georgia State University Perimeter College, Dunwoody as a full-time educator in the dental hygiene program. To date, a number of her articles have been published in oral health columns for the Alzheimer’s Association Magazine, RDH, Modern Hygienist, the Sunstar Dental Hygiene Newsletter, and Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. Today, she works tirelessly to combine her training techniques and educational methods to benefit students, professional and family caregivers, and functionally independent seniors in presentations and workshops across the country.