Dental Care For Seniors Is A Necessity
Dental care for seniors is not a luxury. A beautiful smile is a symbol of good health, beauty and even youth in our society.
While it is true that the health of the teeth is directly connected to the health of the body, it is not true that only the young can have healthy teeth.
Elderly people may tend to be reluctant to seek dental care particularly since they are on a fixed income, dental care is expensive, and yet, not taking care of their teeth can lead to even bigger problems and expenses.
Oral and dental health can be affected by the overall health of the person but poor dental health may also lead to physical issues.
The inability to chew properly can lead to dietary deficiencies particularly in elderly persons who may have poor appetites. Chronic pain can lead to discomfort, depression and unnecessary use of pain medications for a correctable issue.
The Challenges of Getting Older
Dental care for seniors ought to be specific. There are many changes, which take place in the bodies of the elderly, bone density may be impaired, healing takes place at a slower rate. While these changes are unavoidable many of the changes that can take place in an elderly person's teeth can be repaired or even avoided with specific dental care.
Older persons may attend to brushing less fastidiously due to poor eyesight, or health issues and this can cause gingivitis, receding gums and eventually tooth loss. Teeth must last a lifetime but eventually they can begin to wear down, the mouth may produce less saliva, which can also lead to tooth problems.
As if the changes common to aging and health problems were not barriers enough to good dental health the elderly may lose interest in caring for their teeth. They may feel that the expense is wasted as they are nearing the end of their lives.
Adapted Dental Care for Seniors
As a further barrier to the elderly seeking dental care, many dentists are reluctant or inexperienced in treating the problems faced by the elderly.
There can be barriers to access for the elderly person who can't get their wheelchair up the steps to ask someone to assist them to getting inside as the sign may request.
If the elderly person manages to get inside the dentist office, then getting the elderly and wheelchair bound person back to the treatment room can be very difficult. No too many offices are designed with persons with walkers or wheelchairs in mind.
Dentists in general may be somewhat reluctant to treat elderly patients. A dentist whose practice consists of young and healthy persons may have little experience with the particular issues that an elderly patient may face with their teeth.
Add the health complications that can occur as patient's age and it make it difficult for the elderly person to just select any dentist from the phone book.
Dental care for Seniors and Finding Solutions
Despite all these problems good dental and oral health is important and can improve the quality of life of the elderly person and there are solutions for all of these challenges faced by the elderly.
The first is to assure the elderly person that good dental health can improve their quality of life. This can be done gently over time, but pain from lack of dental care need not be a part of the aging process.
Insurance is available that can help defray the cost of dental care for the elderly such as Blue Cross and AARP senior dental. Cost should not be a barrier if the elderly person chooses one of the many senior dental insurance plans available.
Find That Special Dentist
The issue remains to find a good dentist who is familiar with the special dental and health problems faced by the aging individual and willing to treat the elderly.
Fortunately, there are dentists who make the elderly the focus of their practice. These dentists will have experience in the health problems aging persons face as well as how to approach their special dental care problems.
Before selecting a dentist for a senior patient the caregiver, or the elderly person should contact the dentist personally. The dentist should be asked about their experience with the care of elderly patients.
If the older patient is mobility impaired then it is important that the building be accessible for wheelchairs or walkers and the office are designed to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility aids.
Fortunately, dentists who have experience with, or focus on dental care for seniors will usually make sure their offices are easy to access for wheelchairs and their hallways wide enough for a walker or powered chair.
Dental care for seniors is do-able. Once the senior has found a good dentist they may have a much brighter smile, healthier mouth and a lot more to smile about.
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