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News UK & Ireland

The RCS estimates that almost one in two people over 65 will have severe dental conditions in 2040. (Photograph: Photogeoff/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Aug 16, 2017 | News UK & Ireland

Alarm raised over oral health of elderly Brits

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LONDON, UK: Oral health care in older people needs drastic improvement, leading dentists have said this week, as almost one in five Brits over the age of 65 are currently suffering from an urgent dental condition. According to a new report published by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), at least 1.8 million of over ten million in this age group live with dental pain, oral sepsis or extensive caries in untreated teeth.

Conditions could become even worse in 20 years, when it is estimated that almost one in two will have severe dental conditions, the report predicts.

While adult oral health has seen significant improvement over the last 40 years, according to the RCS, too little is currently being done to help older people to maintain their oral health. It asserted that government, health services, local authorities, care providers and regulators have to step up their efforts to improve access to dental services for older people.

“As well as causing pain and making it difficult to speak, eat and take medication, poor oral health is linked to conditions in older people such as malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia,” commented Prof. Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the RCS. “We need to work together to ensure improvements in oral healthcare for older people.”

In addition to improving access to oral health care for the elderly, the RCS recommended oral health training of key health professionals in acute and community care settings, such as nurses, junior doctors, pharmacists and geriatricians. It also suggested that social care providers should train their staff about oral health issues and ensure that oral health is covered by those services in their initial health assessments. Further measures should include the development of policies for hospitals to minimise denture loss and increased efforts to monitor and measure older people’s oral health, the RCS added.

“Dental health needs to be viewed as part of older people’s overall health, with health professionals and social care providers being trained to recognise and deal with problems,” Escudier said.

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