Dental care for the elderly in Switzerland

dental care for the elderly

Neglecting oral hygiene can lead to complications that affect overall health. This is especially true as we age, which is why dental care for the elderly is so important. A new specialty has emerged in dentistry. It is now known as gerodontology.

Oral hygiene for seniors

Longer life expectancy poses new challenges for society. These include dental care for the elderly in Switzerland. Visit dentists in Lausanne or Fribourg have to deal with the fact that patients are keeping their natural teeth longer.

The priority is to preserve the masticatory capacity of seniors to avoid malnutrition. Other overriding objectives are to avoid infections and maintain a pleasing aesthetic appearance to enhance quality of life.

Discover myths and realities about seniors' oral health.

Dental care for dependent seniors

In Switzerland, however, the oral health of dependent senior citizens has really deteriorated. In fact, it is estimated that more than one in three seniors suffers from an oral pathology with serious repercussions on their daily lives.

In this respect, the figures are particularly alarming. They show that the main diseases affecting the elderly are of oral origin. 

  • Over 55 % of elderly people living in retirement homes have lost all their teeth.
  • Over 33 % of elderly people living in their own homes have also lost all their teeth.

In 2019, a study of University of Zurich reported that the oral health of 95 % of nursing home residents is "poor to very poor".

As seniors are often subject to cognitive problems, they find it difficult to pay attention to their bodies. So it's up to their families and health professionals to keep a close eye on their oral hygiene, so that they can maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

According to the Swiss Dental Journal published by Swiss Society of Dentists SSO "In order to ensure adequate dental care for this vulnerable group of dependent people, standards of care relating to oral health should be defined and implemented by an interdisciplinary care team comprising nursing staff, institution management, Spitex, attending physicians, dentists and their assistants, and dental hygienists."

The health consequences of poor dental care

It's a fact that poor dental health can have serious consequences for the physical and mental health of an elderly person. If left unchecked, dental deterioration can lead to :

  • malnutrition
  • weight loss
  • loss of muscle mass
  • fragile bones (osteoporosis)
  • loss of self-esteem
  • isolation

Oral infections and plaque also entail general medical risks, and in particular increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia.

A few tips to prevent oral diseases 

Generally speaking, senior citizens are at greater risk of developing oral pathologies such as tooth decay, tooth loss, osteoporosis and other dental diseases. gingivitisperiodontitis and oral cancer. To prevent these diseases, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Eat less sugar and adopt a healthy, balanced diet to avoid gum recession and cavities.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables regularly to prevent oral cancer.
  • Stop tobacco consumption to reduce the risk of developing serious diseases such as oral cancer and gum recession.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • See your dentist in Lausanne or Fribourg regularly.

In reality, the cost of dental treatment is often too high, and discourages senior citizens. We therefore advise you to take out a complementary health insurance contract that is young enough and offers to reimburse these costs (partially or in full). 

Specific training for caregivers 

Caregivers working in retirement homes can now benefit from specific training. The aim is to raise awareness and improve the skills of caregivers. This training is provided by Swiss organizations committed to this field. They have the expertise to teach how to prevent oral infections and maintain quality dental care for the elderly.

HELVIDENT dental clinics welcome you to Lausanne, Fribourg and Aigle in French-speaking Switzerland. Our team is trained to care for all patients, from children to senior citizens. Don't hesitate to Contact us to make an appointment.