Although oral health is important for people of any age, it’s especially crucial for seniors. Older adults are more likely to have receding gums, which makes them more prone to cavities. The risk of oral cancer also increases with age. (1)
Unfortunately, many elderly adults aren’t getting the dental care they need. An estimated 1 in 5 adults over the age of 65 have untreated tooth decay. 26% of adults over the age of 75 have experienced complete tooth loss. (2)
The Benefits of In-Home Dental Care
Ideally, the elderly should be able to see a dentist on a regular basis. Getting too and from dental offices can be a hassle, but in-home treatment makes getting care easy. Any space, including a home or an assisted living facility, can be converted into a makeshift dentist office.
Not only is in-home care convenient, but the quality of care provided is very high. In-home dentists use state-of-the-art portable equipment that allows them to provide a wide range of services. Dentists aren’t just limited to consultations and cleanings; they can provide many other essential services as well, such as:
- Broken tooth repair
- Root canals
- Bridges and crowns
- New full or partial dentures
- Denture repairs
With in-home dental services, elderly adults are able to receive valuable services in an environment they feel comfortable in. Many dentists that provide these types of services have experience working with seniors that have special needs, including patients suffering from dementia.
Older adults don’t have to make a trip to a dental office in order to receive oral health care. Care providers can come to them. For seniors that are suffering from a lack of dental care, in-home dental services could be a solution to the problems they’ve been facing.
How Can I Find In-Home Dental Care for Seniors?
If you’re a caregiver for an elderly adult that is in need of oral health care, or if you’re a senior that would like to receive care in your own home, you have a range of options. In addition to searching for in-home dentists near you, there are specific resources that can connect you with care providers that offer these services, such as:
The Bureau of Primary Health Care
Concerns about cost has kept many seniors from receiving dental care, but there are affordable options available. This Bureau, which is a service provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration, works with local health centers to ensure that communities are able to access essential services like dental care.
To find out about options in your area, call 1-888-Ask-HRSA. You’ll be able to talk with someone that can tell you more about services available near you. This can be a great way to find out about low-cost dental services, including in-home care.
Local Healthcare Programs
There are a number of local programs that are focused on ensuring that people in need are able to receive care. Try reaching out to your state or local health department and let them know more about the services you’re looking in. If there’s an appropriate program in your area, you’ll be able to learn more about it and find out what you need to know.
Hospital Dental Departments
Local hospitals can be an excellent resource if you’re searching for a dentist that can provide in-home care for you or a loved one. Reach out to your hospital by phone and let them know that you require assistance finding a dentist that works with special needs patients.
It’s not unusual for clinics affiliated with dental schools to offer services like in-home care. If there’s a dental school near you, give them a call and see if they provide in-home dental services.
The American Dental Association
The ADA has a dentist finder tool on their website (ada.org) that makes it easier to find the best local dentists. You can also call (312) 440-2500 to speak with someone that will help you find the right dental services in your area. A live chat service is available as well.
The Special Care Dentistry Association
This international organization is committing to ensuring that people with special needs still have access to dental care. You can contact the association at (312) 527-6764 or use the online search tool on their website (https://www.scdaonline.org/need-a-dentist-#/) to find suitable options.
Your current dentist might not offer services outside their clinic, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything to assist you. If you have a dentist that you know and trust, let them know about your needs and see if they can offer you a recommendation.
How Can Seniors Keep Their Teeth Healthy?
Regular dental checkups are critical to oral health care, and in-home services make it easier to receive this care. With that said, seeing a dentist is only one part of caring for teeth. A good oral health regimen can help to prevent future issues.
Daily brushing and flossing is vital to a health mouth, but brushing teeth isn’t always easy for the elderly. For seniors with arthritis or dexterity problems, a toothbrush with a larger handle tends to be more comfortable to use. Electric toothbrushes are often the best choice for seniors and the elderly because they are easier to use and work better without regard to technique. Setting daily reminders can help seniors with cognitive issues remember to care for their teeth.
Using a fluoridated toothpaste and oral rinse can also make a big difference. Fluoride can help restore enamel and protect against tooth decay. On top of that, using a rinse is an effective way to treat issues like dry mouth.
Caring for teeth can be a challenge for many seniors. There are many factors that keep elderly adults out of dental offices, but luckily, there are solutions available. Take advantage of the best resources for finding at home dental care services for the elderly so that you or your loved one have better access to care.