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NHS dentists 'failing elderly people'

Private dentists
Elderly people have only poor access to NHS dentists meaning that they are left with a choice between seeking private dentistry or doing without, it has been claimed.

Help the Aged told BBC reporters that people who are housebound or who live in a care home can struggle to get access to a dentist because of a lack of mobile units.

The charity revealed that more than one third of over-75s do not have regular check-ups, which could leave their dental and overall health at risk.

Charlotte Potter, a senior health policy officer at Help the Aged, told the BBC that it is a "major" problem.

"It is a particularly acute problem for people in care homes. Services are just not flexible enough and it means that elderly people often go without treatment," she claimed.

Ms Potter pointed out that teeth decay and pain can affect your eating habits and nutrition.

She noted: "It is something the NHS and those caring for old people need to be aware of."

A number of studies have linked poor dental health with heart disease, as bacteria from gum disease is thought to enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart.

 © Adfero Ltd


Dental News update: 31/10/2008