Dental care, elderly suffer30th October 2008
A charity for the elderly has raised concerns that many older people are suffering because they have poor access to dentistry services.
Help the Aged fears that elderly residents in care homes, or those that are housebound, are having difficulties in seeing a dentist.
Improvements in dental care has seen more pensioners retain their own teeth, but the charity is concerned that more than a third of the over 75s are failing to have regular check-ups.
Help the Aged say this is the highest for any age group.
Charlotte Potter, a senior health policy officer at Help the Aged, said: "It is a particularly acute problem for people in care homes. Services are just not flexible enough and it means that elderly people often go without treatment.
"And now more and more are keeping their own teeth into old age it is becoming a major problem.
"Teeth decay and pain can affect your eating habits and nutrition. It is something the NHS and those caring for old people need to be aware of."
Lack of mobile dental units that visit communities has been identified as one of the reasons behind the problem and the British Dental Health Foundation has echoed the charity’s concerns.
Chief executive Nigel Carter said that a problem for older people is that as they stop producing as much saliva, the decay process speeds up.
The Department of Health says guidance has been already been issued to NHS managers about the importance of providing dental services for the elderly.
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