The foundation of lifelong dental health is maintaining oral hygiene practices, including regular visits to your dentist. As we get older, we begin to become subject to health conditions that can make keeping up with these practices difficult. Impacts on our range of motion, muscular control, and cognition can all negatively affect our oral health practices. With rates of those of advanced years being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increasing, special attention is needed to ensure that oral health concerns are kept at bay.
How Dementia Symptoms Can Impact Our Oral Health Practices
Now ranked as the sixth-ranked cause of patient death in the US, Alzheimer’s is known for cognitive decline as part of a prolonged and often traumatic onset. Additionally, this advance of cognitive decline makes it among the most significant contributors to failing oral hygiene in the elderly. As patients begin having difficulty keeping track of plans and schedules, their oral health is just one of the areas of their life that begin to be affected.
Research produced by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows that patients suffering from dementia-related conditions like Alzheimer’s tend to lose track of their oral hygiene practices. Yearly there are an additional ten million dementia cases reported all over the world. Of these, over half of them are attached to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, and the numbers continue to increase. While the reason for this is suspected to be extended life resulting from improved availability of medical care, other factors are being explored. What is known is that it is essential that proper care for these patients is made available and a priority of care providers.
The Role Of The Dental Professional In Caring For Alzheimer’s Patients
It is an important objective of the dental community to ensure these patients receive effective care that is tailored to their needs. Ongoing education among dental professionals provides a focus on patients with dementia and the challenges brought on by cognitive decline. Techniques used to address these concerns include:
- The availability of fluoride and sealants to aid long term prevention
- Tailored dental treatment plans designed for patients with dementia
- Alternate treatment options developed in coordination with insurance providers
Dental care professionals are determined to ensure that the entire spectrum of dental patients has effective care available to them. This requires working to coordinate with the caretakers and family members of these patients in developing solutions. Every year these goals are furthered through the collaborative efforts of patients, families, and their medical providers as they develop new ways of treating these patients effectively. The advance of medical technology has seen more patients living to an advanced age in better health than ever before. Prepare for a long life with your dentist by discussing what options they have available for treating patients who are facing the unique health concerns brought on by age.