When did your dad last see his dentist? Does he even have a dentist still? He’s not alone. The CDC estimates that 2 out of 10 people in the 65 to 74 age group have severe gum disease. Many of those who have gum disease lost dental insurance after retirement and cannot afford dental care. In addition to gum disease, the CDC also reports that there are 31,000 cases of oral cancer each year, and many of these cases occur in the elderly.
You need to get your dad to the dentist, but you’re not sure how. Your dad needs a dentist he likes, and that’s not a decision you should make without his input. Here are four tips to get you started.
Have Him Ask His Friends for Recommendations
If your dad doesn’t have a dentist or doesn’t like his current dentist, ask his friends for referrals. He may prefer going to a dentist that his best friend adores. Once you have a list of possibilities, read reviews from current patients to see who your dad prefers.
Look for a Dentist That Specializes in Fear
If your dad isn’t going to the dentist because it scares him, look for a dentist trained in anxiety issues. These dentists work slowly and go at a pace that makes your dad comfortable. They can use nitrous oxide or other medications if your dad’s anxiety is tough to overcome.
Let Your Dad Interview the Practice
Arrange a time when your dad can go to the dentist and interview the staff. If he gets a feel for the staff and the practice’s atmosphere, he’ll be able to rule out dental practices where he doesn’t feel comfortable. Give him a choice in who he gets as a dentist.
Check for Programs That Make Dental Care More Affordable
Make sure your dad’s dental care is current. If he doesn’t have insurance, talk to the Agency on Aging for suggestions. He may be able to go to a local dental college for free dental cleanings as long as he’s willing to have a supervised student handling the cleaning. Discounted dental plans through Medicaid may also be available to your dad.
If you can’t get him to these free clinics, look into caregivers. Caregivers can drive your dad to and from appointments. Caregivers can also help your dad with oral care. This is a helpful service if your dad’s arthritis makes it hard for him to floss or properly brush his teeth. Call a home care agency to learn more.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Toms River, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.