By 2050, it is estimated that at least 20% of the population of developed nations will be comprised of the elderly. This will have various effects on world economy, sociology, international policies, etc. In the same vein, this new demographic will also greatly affect the healthcare delivery systems that are now in place. The rise of the aging population will highlight the different medical needs that the elderly needs and will need.
In terms of the medical needs of the geriatric population, one of the foremost concerns is their dental health. As a person grows older, his teeth and oral cavity will need as much medical attention as other areas of his body.
The elderly generations of today, and in the next fifty years were born from a time where oral hygiene was considered unimportant. Therefore, it is not surprising some seniors today who are suffering from many dental health problems. The elderly generations are also characterized by deeply ingrained health habits that may be detrimental to their dental health.
Geriatric dentistry will seek to address all these issues with utmost respect and patience. If you are caring for an elderly patient who needs dental health care, take note of the following:
1. Choose a dentist who has experience in treating elderly patients.
Dentists can be certified in the field of geriatric dentistry if they had training and working experience. They are trained to address periodontal disease issues common among the elderly. Geriatric dentists are also trained to consider the overall health status of an elderly patient when undergoing dental procedures. For example, a dentist will need to be extra careful when treating patients with diabetes, since this can affect the healing process.
2. Find a dentist who also makes dentures.
Most elderly patients use dentures since there is a great chance that they have already lost their permanent teeth. It is best to find dentists or orthodontists who make their own dentures, so that the trip to the dentist will be quicker and easier for a geriatric patient.
3. Ask for dentist recommendations from other friends or family members in the senior citizen age group.
This option is self-explanatory. A recommendation from other elders will ensure that you will find a geriatric dentist who will truly understand another older person’s dental concerns.
Those are the primary considerations you should take into account prior to selecting a good geriatric dentist. Also, keep in mind that dental care for the elderly may be included in the treatment for elders living in nursing homes. However, this can come at a cost.
Another option for getting affordable geriatric dental care is to go to your local or state hospital. Most states and countries have existing laws for free medical and dental care for its senior citizens.