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Taichung to provide dentures for low, mid-income seniors

TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- The public Taichung Hospital announced yesterday that elderly people from low- and mid-income families in the city may apply for a city government subsidy to help cover the cost of dentures.

In an effort to ensure the oral health of the city's elderly, the Taichung city government launched a program Feb. 3 under which economically disadvantaged people aged 65 and over are entitled to a subsidy of up to NT$40,000 to cover the cost of dentures, according to Lu Yu-hsiu, a dentist at the hospital.

While nutrition is the key to good health among the elderly, most of them do not get adequate nutrition because of eating problems associated with bad teeth, therefore, oral health is very important, Lu said.

Citing as an example a 72-year old man, 176 cm tall, who lives alone, Lu said he once weighed 90 kg but he lost weight and was in poor physical condition because his bad teeth made it difficult for him to chew and he therefore became malnourished. The problem was that he could not afford to pay for dentures, Lu added.

However, by taking advantage of the subsidy program, the elderly man can now eat any kind of food he wants, he added.

Missing teeth and tooth decay can not only lead to poor nutrition, but can also affect social interaction and communication among the elderly, Lu noted.

He urged eligible seniors to first go to the hospital, which has a contract with the city government, and apply for an assessment and verification of their condition by Oct. 30.

Once the applicants receive the verification report, they can send it to the Taichung City Dental Association for approval and await further notification by the city government, he said.

Under the program, each person can obtain a subsidy of up to NT$40,000 to help cover the cost of a full set of dentures, or NT$20,000 for removable partial dentures.

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