Can Oral Health Checks Detect Early Stage Dementia?
Report from the British Dental Health Foundation suggests dentists may have role to play.
Dementia seems to be increasingly in the news these days, and anyone who has experienced a friend or relative having dementia will know just how painful and frustrating this illness can be. Whilst there are no cures for dementia, to date, there are now treatments available which can slow down the process and these will, almost without doubt, become more developed as time goes by. As many with dementia are elderly, detecting dementia early on improves the chances of them living a fulfilling life for longer.
So what has this got to do with dentistry and Blue Sky Dental, you might ask.
A report just out by the British Dental Health Foundation (1) has indicated that dental practices may be able to help in the early detection of dementia. With one early symptom of dementia being the inability to care for themselves fully, an increase in the rate of deterioration of a regular patient’s oral health may be a warning sign that all is not well; especially if they have generally taken good care of their teeth and gums.
With family members often putting early stage dementia down to simple forgetfulness, often in denial of the reality, these dental checks may be useful and advice may be offered to see their doctor for further consultation.
Communication between the dentist at our Chelmsford practice and the patient is an important part of ensuring good oral health care. With dementia patients, even in the early stages, communication about oral health care can be difficult, resulting in less than ideal cleaning and flossing of the teeth. To ensure that the patient’s oral health does not suffer, an effective care plan needs to put put into place, not only to prevent severe deterioration in oral health, but in the general health of the patient. Not least those diseases that are increasingly being linked to gum disease, such as heart problems and some cancers.
Not only can their physical health suffer though. Unfortunately for many dementia patients, a loss of dignity and self esteem can also occur. This is exasperated when they are unable, through weakened teeth, to eat a diet sufficient in nutrition to keep them healthy and alert.
With over 1 million people expected to be diagnosed with dementia, and Alzheimer’s in particular, by 2025, the role of dentists such as our own at Blue Sky Dental is likely to become increasingly important in its early detection. If you are a partner or carer of someone with early stage dementia, please help to make sure that they are receiving proper oral care and are seen by one of our Chelmsford dentists on a regular basis.
Call us today on 01245 211070 for further advice and information.