The demographic of older adults (i.e., 65 years of age and older) is growing and likely will be an increasingly large part of dental practice in the coming years.

Projections are that the number of adults over age 65 will reach 72 million, or 20% of the US population by 2030. An increasing number of this group are striving to retain their natural teeth over previous groups. Advancements in dental services for this group include implants, and periodontal protocols, as well as improved restoration materials and options. Medicare is slowly coming to the realization that dental care is important to their clients, and are beginning to include basic dental benefits in Medicare. Costs will, however, be a concern to many older adults, and should be taken into account in planning for retirement expenses. A good rule would be to budget and accrue $500 -$1000/year for dental maintenance –what you don’t use in a year should be saved for the next. Most dental offices also offer third party interest free payment options. We at Valley Dental Group are more than happy to work with any and all special requirements that come along with the boomers dental health.

Although better than in years past, the typical aging patient’s baseline health state can be complicated by comorbid conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes mellitus) and physiologic changes associated with aging.

Most older adults have at least one chronic conditions, and many have several conditions. Common conditions are hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, back and neck pain, depression and dementia, gastrointestinal issues and immune system concerns. Many of these conditions result in physical limitations, making brushing and flossing difficult, and dementia results in almost complete lack of self care. Potential physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments associated with aging may make oral health self-care and patient education/communications challenging. Potential physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments associated with aging may make oral health self-care and patient education/communications challenging.

Older adults may regularly use several prescription and/or over-the-counter medications, making them vulnerable to medication errors, drug interactions or adverse drug reactions.

39% of older adults take 5 or more prescriptions, and 90% take at least one drug. Drug related xerostomia (dry mouth) affects up to 40% of older adults, with serious dental repercussions. Dry mouth can lead to rapid dental decay. Calcium can lead to calculus build up. It is critical to maintain mouth moisture, and increase oral hygiene procedures to stay ahead of the damage. This could include increased brushing, use of a rotary toothbrush, mouth rinses and prescription fluoride toothpaste, as well limiting some foods and beverages that can make decay worse, such as juices, sodas, and other sweetened beverages.