By ERNIE WRIGHT
It’s been suggested that dentists are well placed to spot the early signs of dementia.
Dementia affects 850,000 people in the UK and this will rise to one million by 2025.
If dentists everywhere knew how to spot it they would be performing a valuable service because a timely diagnosis is one of the best starts for managing the disease. Yet people with dementia are not getting it.
Only 44 per cent of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland ever receive a diagnosis.
Two thirds live in the community, many in isolation, and so contact with their dentist every year is a good chance to spot symptoms.
There’s another way dentists can help though, and it will be an area of rapid growth as the baby boomer generation reach their elderly years. Specialist oral care for people with dementia.
By 2033, there will be 7m more people aged over 60, which means maybe 500,000 more people with dementia (the proportion of people with dementia doubles for every five-year age group).
Unless there is a miracle cure, all these people will need sympathetic dental care from clinicians who understand the disease and have enough time in appointments to make their patients feel comfortable.
Oral hygiene is, after all, one of the first things to suffer in people with dementia, and causes significant pain and confusion.
Breathe Business is currently investigating dementia training programs for dentists to help them meet this demand. Get in touch if you can help.