As we age into maturity, our dental care needs change. Whether this is a consideration for yourself, a loved one, or you are just a caregiver, it’s important to know how these needs are being met with your current dental provider. Here are the top 7 age related dental health problems that we must consider and affect our lives as we grow older.
Outside of those, one of the biggest areas of concern for seniors and the elderly is that of affordable dentistry so that poses an additional challenge to our long term health.
Dental Care for Seniors Without Insurance
After retirement, most people move to a fixed income and that is usually a lot less than what we used to earn. Gone are the days with company provided dental insurance so all dental expenses are out of pocket.
According to a 2019 Canadian Dental Society article, of adults aged 60-79, 53% did not have dental insurance. While roughly three quarters of Canadians were able to see a dental professional in 2018, just over one-fifth (22.4%) avoided going due to cost.
Canada is looking at an aging population. Already growing at a rapid rate, the senior population (65+) is expected to climb to 10.4 million by 2037 – an increase of 68% over 2017’s demographics. Within the senior population, the group of those age 75 and older is growing even faster. 
Clearly, this is a growing issue in Burlington and across Canada.
How Regular Dentistry Helps Fight Against Growing Overall Health Issues
Routine dentistry is effective at preventing and detecting tooth decay/dental caries, periodontitis/gum disease, and oral cancer as well as potential vitamin deficiencies. Additionally, good dental health affects general wellbeing.
It is correlated to lowering risks seen with diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, Alzheimer’s and more. Teeth grinding can be a sign of potential obstructive sleep apnea, which can affect major parts of the body.
Poor dental hygiene can have effects throughout the body. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream or be inhaled into the lungs, potentially causing respiratory infections. Gum disease is also linked to osteoporosis. This is not limited to the jawbone and teeth but can be seen in other bones, too.
Periodontal issues affect mental health as well. Depression and feelings of embarrassment at changes in their appearance, particularly from missing or damaged teeth, can lead older adults to withdraw socially.
Additional Issues that Affect Senior’s Access to Affordable Dental Care
Often not talked about are other factors that can limit seniors and to more extent the elderly from access to a dentist for seniors in Burlington. Here are just a few:
- Isolation: Seniors and elderly can be neglected or left alone for a long amount of time. Quite often they depend on caregivers to help them get to a dental office. Dental appointments might not be made at all or missed due to this.
- Physical limitations: Reduced mobility, access to transportation, distance and so on really affect the ability for some of us to get to a clinic.
- Disease or chronic conditions: Chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, dementia or others mean that it can be painful or just difficult to get to various places outside the house
- Mental health: Being isolated or away from loved ones can lead to depression and anxiety. It’s hard to make health and well being decisions by yourself when facing such hurdles.
There are many special considerations for seniors and the elderly for their dental care. When choosing an office to trust, make sure they take these things into account.
Feature image taken from freepic
https://www.cihi.ca/en/infographic-canadas-seniors-population-outlook-uncharted-territory#:~:text=Over%20the%20last%2040%20years,expected%20to%20number%2010.4%20million. (accessed Oct 11, 2023)