One challenge for family caregivers is dental care for their loved ones. At best, getting someone who suffers from some sort of physical or mental infirmity out the door and to the dentist is a challenge. At worst, getting out of the house may be impossible, and regular dental care is neglected.
Mom and Dad had fairly good teeth in their younger days. They were both raised in West Texas where the water contains natural fluoride. But as they aged, they became careless with their dental hygiene and the problems began. By the time I became their full-time caregiver, some of their teeth were beyond saving. In the 6 years they lived with me, Dad had to have 3 teeth removed, and after Mom moved into assisted living, she pushed her lower two front teeth out with her tongue due to bone loss around the roots.
Sometimes I get requests from other writers to post something they have written. A recent request was from Comprehensive & Mobile Dental Care, a company that offers in-home dental care in the Los Angeles region. I was unaware that this type of service existed and found it very interesting, but since their service area is limited, I wasn’t sure if their information would be useful to most of my readers. Then I did a search for mobile dental care and found this kind of service is available in many areas.
In-home dental services would have been helpful in my care of Mom and Dad, so today I’m featuring a post from Gabrielle Mahler, DMD, about what to look for in a home dental care provider.
From the time someone is a newborn baby to the time they are a senior citizen, they will need to properly care for their teeth. Yes, oral health is a lifelong process – one that can be viewed as fun and important or one that can be viewed as boring and arduous. However, the way one views their dental care all boils down to the individual, their past experiences and their knowledge about dental disease.
In most instances, everyone understands that brushing daily is important. However, many people are unaware that there are specific concerns and issues that arise with increased age. The good news is that senior dental services provide sound oral hygiene and the tools we need to keep dental disease and issues at bay.
First, let’s discuss cavities. Although they are found in children, they are most frequent in older adults for several reasons. For instance, older adults may not have had fluoride enriched products when they were children. In fact, they may have grown up in a community where they didn’t have access to fluoride enriched water or fluoride toothpaste. In addition, seniors are likelier to have older fillings that have decay under or around them. In addition, cavities become more pronounced and deeper when a senior’s gum tissue begins to recede in older adults. It is this recession that exposes the tooth’s root surface to decay.
Second, many seniors often experience dry mouth that is a natural occurrence that comes from getting older. In addition, certain medications can also cause more dry mouth. When you combine this with unhealthy foods, like sweets or sweet wine from a wine store, and bad dental hygiene, many seniors experience a surge in tooth decay. Since there is not enough saliva, they aren’t able to wash away the food particles and then, the acid from the plaque isn’t removed and remains acidified and not neutralized. So, to help seniors with these issues, it is important that the senior home dental providers provides seniors with the following:
1. Senior care provider should give the senior an empathetic and comfortable experience. In essence they should be empathetic and give them a personal touch so the senior feels respected and cared about. This encourages elderly people to be cooperative during sessions with the mobile dentist.
2. Senior care provider should provide on-site and in-house dental services to nursing home participants. They should administer affordable dental plans or specialized discounts to help the senior patient save money on dental treatments, procedures and services.
3. They should provide seniors with a good overall experience. They should have the latest training in geriatric dentistry. They should have the latest tools to make the dental process easier and less painful.
4. The senior home dental care provider should provide seniors with a sound education so that they can become more knowledgeable about issues affecting seniors like dry mouth, gingivitis, and cavities. They should also discuss preventive care like avoiding sweets or sweet wine from a wine store, brushing teeth upon arise and after eating, etc.
5. The senior home dental provider must be able to meet the needs patients who are uninsured or under- insured. There should be no pre – existing condition exclusions.
In conclusion, dentistry for seniors is extremely important. When senior home dental care providers are knowledgeable about the needs of seniors, provide them with quality care, and work diligently to please their seniors, it positively impacts the senior’s life and our community.
Gabrielle Mahler, DMD, was trained at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She went on to do her residency in the Advanced Education of General Dentistry at Columbia University. She has been providing mobile geriatric dentistry to the senior community for 8 years. The warm and loving manner with which she treats patients makes her a favorite practitioner among the families that she works with.