What happens after we grow old? Obviously, aging brings many issues in our life. Most of these health problems are associated with our mouth. As we cross a certain age, our teeth begin to decay. It is sad but with the time we have a tendency to lose most of our teeth. Geriatric Dentistry is one branch of medicine that has solution to all such health problems.
The dentists say that older adults would likely have an additional tending or the Geriatric medical specialty. The risk factor for general health problems in the elderly population is quite more. Furthermore, the poor oral health can lead to many other health complications. It is advised that the elderly people need specialized dental care. This special dental care is referred as Geriatric Dentistry.
The people who may have crossed their 60 years, or the senior citizens are more susceptible to oral conditions. The elderly populations are prone to the diseases which increases chronic conditions and physical/mental disabilities among them.
All about the Geriatric Dentistry
Delivery of dental care services to elder people or the senior citizens is known as the Geriatric Dentistry. The Geriatric Dentistry is related to the diagnosis, prevention, management and treatment of dental problems associated with age related diseases. In many countries Geriatric Dentistry is a specialized stream of oral care, or the dentistry. These include the USA, Australia and Britain. In India, Geriatric Dentistry is still in its primary stages of development, still it is becoming popular with the passage of time.
Geriatric Dentistry for countries like India is a need of the time. Geriatric Dentistry needs to be popularized in India for so many reasons. Primarily one is that the overall population of India is aging at a very fast pace. Another reason is the overdependence of elderly people in India on others for their expenditure. This leaves their health issues mostly neglected. It is also because the experts link general health of human beings with their oral health. This is why the aging people need more attention.
Where to avail the Geriatric Dentistry in India?
There are nearly 104 million elderly persons, aged 60 years or above in India as per the census data of 2011, Around 53 million of them are females and remaining 51 million are male. Experts in demography suggest that the number of elderly persons in India will cross the 173 million mark by 2026.
Timely oral or dental care can help cut the medical bills of the people, specially in their older ages. Ignoring the oral health can lead us to chronic diseases. Geriatric Dentistry is an urgent requirement. The growing medical bills and the costs of treatments are rising day by day making it more important. The policy makers and the public health system need to respond in time. Geriatric Dentistry must be popularised as soon as possible.
Mostly, the general dentists address the issue of Geriatric Dentistry. But we need experts in Geriatric Dentistry. We can say that the elderly people should take care of themselves and visit a qualified dentist regularly.
- Dr Naseem Ashraf is a Delhi based Dental Surgeon. He writes on public policy and community health issues.