The baby boomers have taken over America! The largest growing age group of all sociological groups studied are persons over age 65. In 2012, 77 million Americans will reach retirement age. Many geriatric patients will also lose their dental insurance coverage after retirement. Currently only 20% of the geriatric population seeks out dental care… Most geriatric dental patients have part or all of their natural dentition. Many have previously been treated for advanced periodontitis and have numerous areas of root exposure due to recession after healing or periodontal surgical procedures. Because these advanced periodontitis patients are being placed in assisted living or managed care facilities, a new category of dental hygienist or dental hygiene practitioner will be needed. Currently very few managed care and retirement facilities have on-site dental centers. Many dental schools cannot get graduates of dental or dental hygiene programs to focus on this group because the age … Our responsibility as clinical dental hygienists should be to help all our patients understand the increased risk they will have as they advance into geriatric health. How should we educate? What special needs care should we be ready to provide?
Not only am I discussing risk factors (see related sidebar) with my geriatric patients, I am advising even the 20-something patients that have placed themselves in a high-risk category by consuming too much soda, or who have a history of decalcification and hypoplastic enamel associated with previous orthodontic care. Their gingival health is also a major factor in long-term oral health as they age…
Many geriatric patients with advanced periodontal disease ease may have teeth that are so compromised with diminished oral care that extraction is the best and most conservative option. Knowing the history of medications containing bisphosphonates is important to avoid the risk of osteonecrosis-related complications. Many patients have taken oral bisphosphonates for more than five years, putting them in a high-risk category for BRON (bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis)….read more
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