Oral health is not distinct from your general well-being and can have a direct link to your overall health, which is why it’s essential to develop and uphold oral care habit during any age.
Maintaining oral hygiene can be difficult in old age, and as for seniors and people with disabilities that impair mobility, traditional dental care routines may be complex and challenging.
Their plaque removal struggles may be enhanced by adaptation of manual plaque control aids or by use of an electric device. The strategy and implementation of all-inclusive preventive dentistry procedures for elders with physical limitations present the dental profession with many challenges.
In India, with its population of over a billion people, those who are older than 60 years of age constitute a percentile of about 7 – 10% of the total population, which amounts to 75 -80 million, the incidence of oral cancer, which is an old age disease, is highest.
Of added concern may be the manifestation of systemic disease that not only influences the patient’s ability to maintain oral hygiene and promotion of oral health but, can be related to the existence of certain oral diseases.
Though impairments are not life-threatening, they affect a person’s quality-of-life. Thus, planning treatment for the senior dental patient includes an understanding of the chronic diseases the patient lives with daily, as this play a critical role in the acceptance and success of the dental treatment plans.
Preventive dentistry components for the elderly with physical limitations
Electric devices: It can be of an invaluable aid for the elderly. These devices have enlarged handles, which may be grasped easily than the standard toothbrush handle. The advantage derives that they are motor driven, thus, requiring little or no arm or wrist movement, and the need to make consistent movements. Some of the electric plaque removal devices are designed in a way that the action stops if too much pressure is applied.
Adaptive aids: If an elderly’s grip is weakened by a condition such as arthritis, they encounter difficulty in grasping the slender handle of a conventional toothbrush, floss holder, or other home care aides. The handle can be enlarged to enable the patient to do effective plaque removal, and it can be grasped with ease.
Mechanical plaque removal: The plaque retention in the elderly is aggravated by the presence of restorations, gingival recession, and missing teeth. The elderly disabled should be helped to develop the ability to brush effectively. Those who have diminished manual dexterity may benefit from the use of traditional mechanical, electric, or manual brushes that have been adapted or customized for each person.
Rinses: Chlorhexidine rinse has various applications for the treatment in the elderly, and is primarily indicated for gingivitis. Though, it is effective against a range of plaque bacteria, thus enhancing the patient’s mechanical plaque control efforts. Fluoride has known to prevent the development of caries that is more prone to older patients.
Denture care: The denture treatment is a crucial affair in elderly people, suffering from any physical disabilities. When immediate dentures are being positioned, to substitute enamels that have just been extracted, in most cases a waiting period is usually desirable before starting with a permanent treatment, such as an implant or placing of a bridge.
Another suitable option for physically impaired elderly patients is the use of mini-implants. Being comparatively smaller in size these can be placed without hassle-free.
Permanent dentures are stable, and the wearer will be confident with them. Also, many believe erroneously, that once all their teeth are extracted, then they no longer need to be concerned about oral health. However, irrespectively, the elderly, who wear dentures, should be taught proper home care of both dentures, and tissues.
Digestion plays a crucial role in majorly impairing oral healthcare in the physically challenged elderly community, because of factors like less ability to self-manage due to functional dependency, bad digestion due to loss of teeth, physical weakness and mental deficiency.
Similarly, modifications in speech also have an active role to play in damaging the oral health of the physically challenged elders. Any malfunction or modifications related to the functioning of mouth, lips, or tongue can cause a disturbance in their oral health.