Survey shows less than half of dental associations collect data of elderly
FDI conducted a survey among its 140 regular members on oral conditions in the elderly and found that, from the 62 National Dental Associations (NDAs) who took part, only 39% collect data. The survey was carried out between January and December 2016 and asked NDAs whether and how they collect data on oral health among older adults, as well as the dental coverage model they have for them in their country.
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Results showed that data is mostly collected through an examiner rather than self-report, most of which is disseminated through academic theses and journals. Most NDAs also reported collecting data every five years or less, mainly through national agencies or university dental programmes. The type of data collected was predominately on the number of teeth with caries, periodontal conditions, the number of teeth, and use of dental care.
The survey also highlighted differences among NDAs regarding who finances the oral healthcare of the elderly. Most reported no health insurance paying for the oral care of their older citizens, followed by government health insurances, then private health insurance, and lastly universal health coverage.
Responses for this survey were from the following FDI regions: Europe (30 out of 59 NDAs), Asia Pacific & Middle East (14 NDAs out of 35 NDAs), Africa (10 out of 28), Latin America (6 out of 13 NDAs), and North America (2 out of 5 NDAs).
Why target older adults?
Most countries in the world are experiencing growing numbers of older adults in their population. Yet, when asked if they conduct regular activities to promote oral health for ageing populations, less than half of the NDAs who took the survey reported carrying out promotional activities targeting older people (beyond data collection).
As with other health issues, the elderly have different oral health needs compared to other age groups. They are at an increased risk of tooth loss, gum disease, oral cancer and other illnesses –as well as denture problems, poor nutrition, and dry mouth.
Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 have no natural teeth.
Hence, the need to have national health systems and dental associations in place that look after its older population.
FDI partnership for an ageing population
The survey was carried out as part of the Oral Health for an Ageing Population partnership between FDI and GC International AG. Launched in 2015, the partnership seeks to ensure oral health challenges are addressed in broader disease policies for ageing population. Its main objectives are to establish the fundamental role of oral health professionals in healthy longevity, and to further study opportunities for improved oral disease prevention and treatment of elderly patients and actively promote awareness of research on oral health in ageing populations.
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