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What You Need to Know About Oral Health in an Aging IDD Population 

What You Need to Know About Oral Health in an Aging IDD Population 

May 16th, 2023
3 minutes read


Older adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) face unique challenges when it comes to oral health and accessing healthcare, including dental care. According to a recent study by the National Council on Aging, 91% of adults with IDD experience dental caries and are more likely to have untreated dental problems than the general population.

In addition, according to Aging and Dental Health – American Dental Association, “Dental conditions associated with aging include dry mouth (xerostomia), root and coronal caries, and periodontitis; patients may show increased sensitivity to drugs used in dentistry, including local anesthetics and analgesics.”

This is a result of the population not only facing greater barriers in finding a dentist, funding, and transportation services but from mental issues, physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments, and memory loss. Furthermore, the aging population uses prescription drugs that may worsen their oral health. These challenges can lead to a lack of routine dental care, which can result in poor oral health outcomes such as gum disease, tooth loss, and even systemic health issues.

Good News: Dental Integration Into Care Models Is the Solution

The good news is that dental integration into care models for an aging IDD population can help to address these challenges and improve health outcomes. By integrating dental care into existing healthcare services, older adults with IDD can receive the care they need without having to navigate additional barriers.

For example, healthcare providers can work together to coordinate transportation services for dental appointments or provide funding assistance for individuals who may not have insurance coverage for dental care. Additionally, healthcare providers can implement oral health education and preventive services, such as routine dental cleanings and fluoride treatments, to help prevent dental issues before they become more serious. Integrating dental care into existing healthcare services also has the potential to improve overall health outcomes for older adults with IDD. 

Poor Oral Health Links to Systemic Health Issues, but This Can Be Avoided

Poor oral health has been linked to a range of systemic health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease. By addressing oral health issues, healthcare providers can help to prevent these serious health conditions and improve the overall quality of life for older adults with IDD.

This has been proven possible, with results from a survey test proving so. It surveyed 50 patients with IDD who received dental care from our portable dental care model through a partnership with the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health and the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council. The response was as follows, “Our team met their oral health needs and provided appropriate accommodations for their physical and developmental needs. Our patients reported high levels of satisfaction with our dental providers and teledentistry services.” One caregiver shared, “Staff provided wonderful care. Highly recommended for future visits.”

Let’s Help the Aging Population with Oral Health Solutions Together

In conclusion, integrating dental care into care models for an aging IDD population is essential to improving health outcomes and quality of life for this vulnerable population. By addressing the unique challenges faced by older adults with IDD in accessing dental care, healthcare providers can help to ensure that they receive the care they need to maintain good oral health and prevent serious health issues. Let’s address the problems with our solutions together. Speak to us at Enable Dental

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