The oral health care industry states that geriatric dentistry or oral health care for the elderly was not a very common practice in the past. It is a dental service that was not generally sought by the older population simply because the elders themselves believed that at their age, it is not that important. They did not deem it a priority to take care of their oral health needs. Mostly, they saw dental problems as simply part of aging.
Whether it is a lack of oral health education, or a belief that poor oral health comes with old age, dentists all over the world are slowly trying to change this view. Good oral health is still very important for the elderly. Not only will it help them live a longer and fuller life, but regular dental checkups will also help in the early detection of periodontal diseases.
Elders tend to suffer from various kinds of oral health problems. These include oral cancers, dry mouth, root caries, gum disease, missing teeth, the need for dentures, and periodontal disease. All these may have been caused by poor oral hygiene, or poor eating habits at an earlier age. Poor oral health later on in life is a normal occurrence for individuals who did not schedule regular visits to the dentist. There is a need to emphasize during early adulthood that good oral health is important to prevent future problems.
Geriatric dentistry is a separate specialization for dentists and dental hygienists. It takes a special kind of dental practitioner to give this kind of service. Providing dental care for the elderly takes a lot of patience and understanding. It requires knowledge about how to deal with older patients that may have other possible illnesses including Alzheimerâs disease, behavioral problems, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
Dentists who intend to provide geriatric dentistry services may need to have special dental equipment and facilities, including a ramp in the dental office to accommodate patients who are in a wheelchair. And because geriatric dentists deal with the elderly, who may find it difficult to travel, they are usually the ones to come to their patients. They are often found in hospitals and healthcare facilities for the elderly, working with other hygienists and medical providers to deliver oral health care, even to those who are already bedridden.
For today’s dental practitioners, it is very hard to market this type of oral healthcare service because many patients from the age of 65 years old and above do not see the need to take care of their oral needs. On the contrary, oral health care for aging patients is still very important to help lengthen their life and for earlier detection and prevention against periodontal disease.
When opting to find a dentist near Sterling VA for the elderly, it is important to look for one with expertise in gum disease and tooth loss, as these are the most common problems faced by people above the age of 65. Many of the patients also tend to wear dentures, so it is advisable to find one who can provide these types of dental appliances as well.
The oral healthcare industry is keen on the fact that geriatric dentistry is still a field of practice that they need to further market to their existing customers and extend to the general public. For the most part, this involves oral healthcare education for many people at an early age, about what they should anticipate about their oral health condition once they reach the age of 65.