Factors Affecting Oral Health Status in an Elderly Military Veteran Population in New Zealand

With an inadequacy of trained professionals in the aged-care facilities, the inhabitants are to face the risks to oral health. Keeping good hygiene will require the necessary equipment and a healthy diet, which are not ensured in the case of many of the elderly citizens. Appreciation for oral health is declining by the day, and this would only bring about a culture where the older population would be left to live toothlessly.Limited financial resources are also a contributing factor for the substantial barriers to providing even the most basic oral health care to the individuals in the country.

Oral health is a concern that cannot be overlooked for the fact that it can start to affect various parts of the body. Dental practitioners often express concern about not being able to comply with the needs of the older community. They are also reluctant to engage in the activities of older people’s health because of the dentists’ inconvenience of leaving their clinics for long hours to visit such facilities with poor financial support.

A Test of the Factors Affecting Oral Health

As mentioned earlier, the deterioration of oral health in the elderly military population is not backed by appropriate support. Montecillo War Veterans Rest Home and Hospital in Dunedin is one such facility in New Zealand that functions to care for the veterans or their dependents. A pilot study was conducted to identify the factors that affect the oral health status among the small population of war veterans and compare it against the status of the non-veteran people in other aged care facilities. This would also help in providing clinical oral and head examinations for all residents, and integration of oral health care plan into the existing general medical records.

Army veteran

After collecting the necessary details and the residents’ voluntary participation in the study, all of them were subjected to physical examinations. A dental mirror and light were used for the intraoral examination, and the dentition, restorations, and clinically visible pathology was recorded using a charting system. Any dental or pathology needs were identified by cross-referencing the data with the medical history of every resident. Majority of the residents had a reserve force service background, and around 60 % of them had served in the army. Many of them had served in the Second World War, and the remaining were active in Malaya or Indonesia.

Ischaemic heart diseases, gout, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and mental illness are some of the common medical problems of the participants in the test. According to the study, two-thirds of the residents of the facility were edentulous, and the remaining section of people was affected by natural dentition. Most of these aged people face these problems because they cannot afford to replace their decayed tooth or consider themselves too old for it. As long as the scant for doctors and healthcare professionals exist, there remains no hope for these elderly military veterans.

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