Nowadays, older people retain their natural teeth more frequently and so are at increased risk of oral disease. At the same time, discontinued contacts with dental services prevent access to preventive care and increase the risk of undetected disease. This study aims to evaluate how often older people discontinue regular dental visits and to establish the reasons.
This study is a retrospective review of records of patients aged ≥75 years from seven Swedish clinics, three in the public dental service (PuDS) and four in the private (PrDS). All patients were examined in 2010, and their dental attendance records from 2010 to 2014 studied. Data included gender, dental insurance system, last performed planned examination, emergency visits, registrations in the recall system, cause of discontinued care and number of teeth and implants.
In total, 993 records were studied, 303 in PuDS and 690 in PrDS. In both groups, 10% of patients had no complete dental examinations between 2010 and 2014 after baseline examination in 2010. One-quarter were not registered in the recall system after their last examinations, and this was more common in PrDS than PuDS. In many cases, no reason for discontinued regular visits were described in the records. The mean number of natural teeth was 19.0 in both groups, but there were more implants in the PrDS group.
A large proportion of the participants risked losing regular contact with dental services. Dental services appeared to lack strategies for maintaining regular dental care for elderly patients.