More than 250,000 Americans turn 65 each month. By 2030, 67 million Americans or close to 20% of the population will be 65 or older. Thanks to decades of better preventive care, these people are keeping more of their teeth than their predecessors, even into their eighties and nineties.
Yet the need to understand the geriatric patient has never been greater than it is today. And treating an older patient is much more complex because they will have a combination possibly of decay, periodontal disease and other global health issues to take into consideration.
A large number of older patients have chronic medical conditions that impact oral health, particularly if they are on medication that causes dry mouth. Or, these patients may have difficulties with brushing and flossing because of declining vision, coordination, and cognition, further negatively impacting their oral health. Some are just fatigued and thus unmotivated to maintain their oral health.
With these issues in mind, you’ve got a patient that has complex clinical needs and complex medical needs, and you’ve got to balance the two. As a consequence, you are inhibited by circumstances to do everything you want for this patient because of their medical history. Maybe you have to come up with a more creative treatment plan. Our experience has found that there needs to be more time and attention paid to the over 65 population.
Senior citizens also have limited access to dental insurance, preventing many of them from getting the care they need. Often retired, seniors aren’t covered by any employer and for some unknown reason Medicare does not cover routine dental care in its basic benefits. Only 12% of Medicare beneficiaries have some kind of dental insurance coverage.
So one of our issues is education about the importance of oral healthcare. We see this as particularly a challenge with somebody who’s on a fixed income—how and when they’re going to spend their money. I think that once you get patients into the office, you can talk to them about home care. So much of dentistry, or oral disease, is preventable. If we can be of assistance, please contact us.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DMD
Howard Abrahams, DDS
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
3781 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Chamblee, GA 30341