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30 May 2018
Dental professionals have an important role in the well-being of patients’ who suffer from dementia, according to the Dental Defence Union (DDU), who release the latest edition of the DDU journal today.
According to the World Health Organisation, the number of dementia cases is expected to rise dramatically over the next 30 years, from 50 million to 152 million by 2050. In the UK, there are currently around 850,000 people living with dementia but this figure is expected to rise to two million by 2051, according to the Alzheimer's Society. As a result, dental professionals are increasingly likely to need to support dementia patients' with their oral health.
As Christine Osborne, general dental practitioner and clinical dental adviser, explains:
'There is no getting away from the fact that the patient's dental health will often go downhill as dementia progresses. Patients are more likely to forget to brush their teeth and dry mouth is a common side effect of many of the drugs prescribed to the elderly, increasing the risk of decay and infection. However, good dental care can make a huge difference to these patients' wellbeing.'
Leo Briggs, deputy head of the DDU said:
'As dementia becomes more prevalent within society, the DDU recommends that dental professionals improve their understanding of the condition and the dento-legal concerns that may arise. Understanding how to assess a patient's capacity to make decisions, when to involve others and the need to adapt your communication style will help. The DDU's dento-legal advisers, who are all registered dentists, are also on hand to advise members with specific concerns.'
The DDU suggests considering the following actions:
This DDU journal article also offers dental professionals the chance to earn an hour of CPD.
Read the DDU journal at: ddujournal.theddu.com/
This guidance was correct at publication 30/05/2018. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.
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