The need for geriatric care in Israel is expanding as the number of elderly people (aged 65+) has grown greatly in recent years, largely as a result of immigration from Eastern Europe. Israel has a very low rate of institutionalisation for its elderly and so the need for ambulatory care is increasing at a disproportionally higher rate.
The need for geriatric dental care is also growing as elderly people are keeping their teeth longer. This field is relatively underdeveloped as few dental clinics cater to the special needs of this population compared, for example, with dental care for children. As 40% of Israel’s elderly are aged 75+, a significant number of dental patients are likely to have a medical background which warrants dental treatment in a hospital context, even if they are living in the community.
At the hospital, many in patients have difficulty coping from day to day and an ill fitting denture or a sore mouth can become a major focus of concern. Since many have nutritional problems, it is important to ensure that they are able to eat properly and are given every chance of improving their nutritional status. They also have far more problems with oral health than patients in the community.
The needs of psychiatric patients deserve a special mention as poor appearance of the mouth may contribute to a low level of self confidence and also puts up an additional barrier when making contact with other people. Their oral health is often neglected with serious consequences as dental treatment may be difficult for all involved. If teeth need to be extracted, it can be difficult to cope with a denture, in some cases it may even be dangerous. This makes a preventive programme all the more important.
So as to facilitate the care of these special populations, a new dental unit has been designed to cater to their special needs as part of a comprehensive oral health strategy. It also offers dental care to ambulatory patients, to the staff and to their dependents.
The dental care is integrated with other ambulatory services in the Geriatric Day Centre. Such a multi-disciplinary approach contributes to the overall quality of care provided. The site is on the ground floor within easy physical access of the main entrance to the hospital and lifts to all departments. The clinic is equipped with two dental chairs and offers the full range of treatments.