Data and Oral Health for the Aging

Data and Oral Health for the Aging

As we age, oral health takes on an increasing importance. Keeping teeth cavity-free and ensuring that gums are healthy and strong means a better overall quality of life, as oral and dental issues can result in pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. Not only that, but attending regular dental checkups can help spot otherwise missed health concerns like diabetes or high blood pressure – two things that become much more dangerous as we get older. If you happen to live in Montreal, you can contact Dr. Bach by clicking here.

Big Data Future of Healthcare

Where does data play a role in all this? Well, it’s all too easy to miss something if you’re not aware it’s an issue – and that goes for your dentist as much as it goes for you. Overlooking an oral or dental health problem in an aging patient could lead to serious, perhaps even life-threatening complications, so having a fine-tuned approach to oral health is important. In this case, data gathering and analysis can be used to improve oral health treatment and behavior. Here’s how.

Data Reveals Regional Trends

While most data gathering organizations like the federal government can showcase general overall trends, such information has little bearing on your own specific dental health needs. However, dialing down into regional data analysis – on a state-by-state level, or even county-by-county or neighborhood-by-neighborhood, can help identify whether environmental problems in your area that affect others might be affecting you as well.

A good example of this is local water quality. If your dentist knows that water sources in your area are from municipally-fluoridated reservoirs versus non-fluoridated groundwater wells, he or she will know whether you need specific attention to the amount of fluoride you need to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Regional data like this can help prevent dental health problems not just for you, but for whole communities.

Data Paves the Way for Help Where It’s Needed

Not everybody has a good job with excellent dental benefits or a comfortable pension to fall back on after retirement. This means that, for those who don’t have the financial resources of others, personal self-care can and often does fall to the wayside. One of the things that can be a casualty of this is visits to the dentist – and without regular dental visits, the possibility of damage and disease increase by a significant factor.

So how can data analysis combat this? If a dentist works in a region that has a large proportion of people who have low or fixed incomes, he or she can use that information to create policies that extend dental care to the area. Knowing your dental office is three blocks from a low-income retirement community means a dentist can create a sliding-scale system to provide low-cost dental care, to name one specific method for increasing access to preventative oral health for aging populations.

Data Provides Better Care for Us All

Thanks to modern medicine, we’re all leading longer lives – and that means more of us are growing to ripe old ages. In the United States, the there are at least 40 million people over the age of 65 according to 2010 census data, and this segment of the population is growing faster than any other.

It’s this data alone that shows us we need to have a renewed focus on medical care for older populations. This trend has been growing strong – the 2010 census showed that there were only 35 million over the age of 65 in the US – and it shows no signs of abating as Baby Boomers continue to age into retirement. Boomers – and the generations to come – will need solid preventative medicine to provide for their extended health and well-being, and providing good oral and dental health care is a major component of that need.

Revealing the need for better dental care for older people can and will result in more resources being devoted to research on new techniques for fighting gum and tooth disease as well as the development of less invasive and more advanced dental and orthodontic treatments. A rising tide lifts all boats – computer imaging, 3D printing, and other technologies, created by the impetus to provide better oral health to the aging, are then applied to the rest of the population.

Data and the Aging – A Good Combination

Collecting data and then analyzing it to discover trends and pinpoint areas that need extra attention has an overwhelmingly positive effect on care for the aging. This doesn’t just apply to dental health, of course, but overall medical care; oral health is, of course, just one very important component of medical care not just for older people but for everyone.

Data gathering and analysis is certainly the answer. From identifying and addressing regional trends to encouraging cutting-edge research and development, the adoption of data-centric treatment methods will result in all of us living longer, happier, healthier, and fuller lives.

Daily Brushing Cartoon

• Meet the Author • Dr. Lawrence Kindo

I am a Medical Professional with a passion for writing, blogging, playing, computers, and of course patient care. My writing in this medical blog will reflect my passion, and you are welcome to be a part of this venture. This medical blog is a tribute to all the great medical pioneers, and to the ultimate source of wisdom, God.

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