Oral healthcare of older patients in U.K. a challenge

The quality and availability of oral healthcare for older adults is a concern and should be a priority, according to a new report from the British Dental Association (BDA).

Many older adults' health and well-being is underserved in the U.K., and there are concerns about providing such care in the future, the report stated. In addition, oral health is often not properly considered in wider healthcare provisions and, as a result, many patients simply don't get the care they need.

The aging demographic of the U.K. population means that new challenges will emerge, including a significant increase in demand for restorative dental treatment, according to the BDA.

The report provides a progress check on 21 recommendations for improving oral care for older people published in a 2003 BDA report. Just six of those recommendations have been met, according to the new report. Among the challenges are inadequate information about patient charge exemptions, the inability of dentists to prescribe artificial saliva except in certain circumstances, and the continued absence of a framework that takes account of older patients' needs.

The new report sets out 12 priorities for reform, including the provision of free, comprehensive oral health assessments for patients older than 60 years old; better integration of health and social services; and the establishment of basic standards for required care in care homes.

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