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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Dentistry facing challenge

2nd December 2009

The British Dental Association’s scientific adviser has warned that NHS dentistry is facing a major challenge coping with the consequences of the ageing population.


Better oral care has seen more people keeping their own teeth, but Professor Damien Walmsley says that while that is good for patients, it means more work for dentists.

This is likely to include an increased demand from older patients for tooth erosion care and replacement fillings as well as more denture maintenance.

At present, fewer than a third of pensioners have their own teeth.

But figures from the BDA show this is likely to be about 50% within two decades.

Prof Walmsley said: "It has the potential to add to the workload. Fillings, crowns and root canal treatment have only been designed to last 20 years and may need to be replaced or maintained.

"Decay will cause problems as older people tend to get a different kind of decay, often around the gums which needs to be treated differently.

"There may also be teeth erosion. We can use compounds to build up teeth as well as fluoride varnishes to strengthen and protect them."

He said resources would be an issue and more research was need to determine how best to tackle the problems of caring for the teeth of an ageing population.

Health minister Ann Keen has acknowledged the issue and said the NHS will need to commission services to meet the needs of all people, including older people who may have difficulty in accessing traditional dental services.


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