According to a new study, elderly adults who live at home often have very poor oral health, and because they are homebound, many of them wish they had access to home-based dental care.
A Very Different Population Than in Institutions
Most studies of the very elderly population’s oral health have focused on the population in institutions. This population has regular access to nursing care and daily assistance with oral hygiene and other aspects of care. Studies of the general elderly population include more those who are living at home but are also still fairly mobile. Because they can’t get out to participate in studies, homebound adults are often neglected when it comes to studies.
Now a new study looking at 125 homebound elderly adults shows that this population has even poorer oral health than other segments of the elderly population.
Serious Oral Health Problems
When researchers visited these homebound adults, they found a population that had serious oral health problems. One-third of them complained of current pain in their mouth. And this is actually surprisingly low, considering that researchers said that 45% of people examined needed extractions, and 40% needed other restorative care. Overall, 78% had at least one decayed tooth, and tooth decay was the main reason why they needed extractions.
Thirty of the patients examined were edentulous (having lost all the teeth in one or both arches). Of these patients 18% didn’t have functional dentures, and 28% needed their dentures replaced.
Not Getting the Care They Need
This population is suffering because they have little to no access to dental care. Nearly all (96%) said no dentist had visited them since they became homebound, and for the majority (61%) that was more than three years ago. Homebound adults still need access to dental care, and it’s important to make sure they get it.
For family members, ensuring regular dental care for elderly relatives should be a priority. If you are looking for a dental practice with special expertise in care for seniors, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with a Philadelphia dentist at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.