Why the Elderly Must be Given Better Access to Dental Treatment
Getting good access to dental treatment is something that is important to everyone but is of particular concern to the elderly in our society.
Although the NHS has allowed more older people to keep their own teeth, lack of access to good quality treatment is still a major problem for many.
It has been estimated by some campaign groups that as many as 33% of those aged over 75 fail to receive regular dental check ups. There are several reasons why this age group is failing to get access to dental care, Firstly many are housebound and are not able to get to a dental surgery.
Some of these individuals may not have family members of friends that they can rely on to help them attend a check up. This can also be a problem for those who are in full time care. Another concern is the financial burden that visiting a dentist can place upon the elderly, especially if they require extensive treatment.
With more older people than ever keeping their original teeth, there is certain to be an increase in future demand for dental care in the UK from this age group.
The reason why it is so concerning that such a high proportion of the elderly are not getting access to treatment is because they are one of the groups that are most susceptible to dental problems.
According to a report in 2008 published by University College London, Periodontal disease is most prevalent among the elderly. Their research found that 67% of those people aged over 65 were suffering from some form of gum disease, whilst the figure was less than 50% for those in the 25 – 34 year-old age group.
However the problem is set to worsen because if the current trend continues, by 2030 it is thought that 8 million of those aged over 35 today could be suffering from Periodontitis. The report also estimated that 2.7 million people in the UK had been two or more years without receiving any professional dental treatment.
Moreover, according to separate research published by Bristol University by 2008, the number of people being admitted to hospital for treatment for an abscessed tooth had doubled in 8 years to almost 1,500. Critics of the current system blame increased financial pressures and a lack of NHS registered dentists.
One of the reasons why the number of elderly people who are not getting regular dental treatment is so troubling is that that age group is the most likely to develop Periodontal disease.
Older people of course have by definition had their teeth longer than the younger population, but there are also other factors inherent to being older which can further heighten the chances of developing gum disease such as…
- Their overall health status
- The fact that they are likely to have a less efficient immune system
- They are more likely to be on medication
- They maybe suffering from depression
- They may have a worsening memory
- They will have less salivary flow
- They have to live on a lower income compared to the national average.
Clearly unless something changes now we are sitting on a ticking ‘timebomb’ where future generations of elderly people will increasingly be suffering dental problems.
Many would see this as a regressive step given that the NHS has done so much to improve the overall dental health in the UK over the past 50 years. Campaigners believe there needs to be greater use of mobile dental units.
One local authority that commissioned a dental van nicked named the “tooth bus” said that in their region alone more than half of the population had not seen a dentist for more than two years.
With an ever increasing aging population, it seems more local authorities will have to follow suit and invest greater resources into providing mobile dental treatment if future problems are to be abated.
About the author: Simon is a writer from over 50’s finance website Annuity Rate City
Categories: Dental Insurance, Teeth
Topics: Tags: 8 years, abscessed tooth, age group, bristol university, campaign groups, current system, dental, dental care, dental check, dental health