Dental Care with a Team Approach

A greater amount of general health problems arise for the older population of patients in the dental field and may require the dentist to look for the input of the family physician for the patient. The family doctor or medical specialist is often sought for the safe and responsible treatment of many dental patients. Recent data indicates that dental patients are retaining their teeth and looking to have dental care until much later in their lives. This elder population of dental patients is likely to have a higher amount of general health problems that could complicate planned dental procedures

An estimated 75 million Americans, of many whom are seniors, have hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension, known frequently as the silent killer, is defined by consistently having blood pressure readings of higher than 140/90. Hypertension is a significant disease due to the fact that it increases the risk of heart attack, kidney damage, and stroke. Another common condition compromising dental care is diabetes, a disease which changes the way our body utilizes the food we consume. Two types of Diabetes exist. Insulin dependent or immune-mediated diabetes is known as Type-1, and is due to the inability of the pancreas to make insulin. Insulin is essential for the proper usage of glucose by the high number of blood cells in our body. Non-insulin dependent or adult onset diabetes, Type-2 Diabetes, is the more common form, occurring in approx. 90% of reported cases. In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is made by the body or it can't properly use it. Untreated or poorly controlled diabetes can have many complications which can include kidney failure, blindness, or stroke. Patients with these disorders or other serious health problems can be challenging for dentists to provide safe care. These patient's family doctors or medical specialists should be consulted by dentists for advice before treating patients of this type.