May 21, 2015
by Kahaliah Richards
Andre Picard, the Globe’s healthcare columnist, recently wrote an article on the aging population’s impact on overall Canadian healthcare. But what about the impact of the aging Boomers on the dental care system?
Many of you will already know — the older the patient, the less likely they are regular attenders and the more likely they are to ask about cost.
And many of you will also know that the older the patient, the more likely they are taking 3 or more prescription drugs each day, and the drier their mouths will be.
So the paradox is this: the older the patient, the greater the need for care and the less frequent they visit the dentist.
Andre Picard raises a good point in his column, which may be helpful in dealing with this paradox.
He observes that we have built a healthcare system largely to treat cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes. These diseases used to kill swiftly and at what we now consider a young age; now they kill slowly, and they are costly to manage.
More than 60 per cent of our health budgets are used to treat chronic illness. Yet we have a system that was built to treat acute illness.
So too is our dental system largely addressing an old problem — the tooth ache or the impacted tooth. We have set up “dental surgeries” to manage this condition, yet, our surveys show that less than 1% of patients in the waiting room have a tooth ache.
Instead, our Boomers now have risk factors for oral health problems.
Answer this question: would Boomers become more frequent and willing-to-pay consumers of dental services if dentistry was less oriented to treat the tooth ache, and more concerned about risk management of chronic oral diseases?
By: Ross Perry
SOURCED: Partners In Prevention – http://partnersinprevention.ca/the-boomers-impact-on-dental-care-has-just-begun/