Home Health and Wellness Sound Dental Care: Geriatric Dental Health, Part 1

Sound Dental Care: Geriatric Dental Health, Part 1

Sound Dental Care and geriatric dental health

Sarah Luetke, founder and CEO of Sound Dental Care, joins Suzanne to talk about geriatric dental health. Sarah has worked in dentistry for over 20 years, for some time in Bainbridge Island, Washington, a very affluent community, as a dental hygienist at a group practice. Patients had the ability to pay for dental care and could keep up on their dental health. She has also had the opportunity to work in farm communities in Montana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, where some people didn’t have the finances to do everything to restore their teeth. She saw patients being offered amazing dental care services. And in America, we are aging people with teeth. Previous generations had teeth pulled and perhaps had dentures. Today we have much better technology, but it can be expensive.

If you’re having tooth pain and you can’t afford traditional dentistry, or you can’t get into the dental office even if you have the money, it’s a big problem. So, as a hygienist, Sarah’s goal has been advocating for health and educating her patients.

Seniors may not necessarily do as good a job with their dental care. They’re perhaps not eating as many crunchy items, things that can help break down things, and instead eating softer foods. For Alzheimer’s patients, the action of chewing and masticating food actually helps the brain and function.

In our next segment, Sarah and Suzanne talk about advances in geriatric dental health. Learn more at Sound Dental Care or call 206-745-3808.

Welcome, everyone, to Answers for Elders Radio Network. And we are very excited today to have a lovely lady by the name of Sarah Luetke. And Sarah, you are the founder and amazing creator of Sound Dental Care, and we are so excited here because would you believe in the hundreds of podcasts that we have out there, I don’t think we have ever done I could be wrong because my memories not a hundred percent, but I don’t think we’ve ever done anything on geriatric dental health and on senior dental health. And it’s always been a concern of mine, how many of us that are over the age of sixty five that are on fixed incomes. We may have a situation in our lives that we’ve been putting something off because it’s just the cost is overwhelming. And it also seems like to me anyway, that the dental world never changes it’s always the same. And Sarah today, I am so excited to have you on because you’re about in this hour for those of us that are listening, um, you’re going to share with this all kinds of new things that you may never not know about, including not having to drill, which is really exciting. And the other thing that I’m really excited to learn, Sarah, is all about sound dental solutions, what you do and how you work. So Sarah, thank you, and welcome to the program.
– Thank you so very much, Susan for having me.
– Well, I’m very glad because, um, you are kind of a trailblazer and I love the fact that you’ve come forward and to talk a little bit about what you do. But before we get into that, I would love to have you kind of give us the three hundred and sixty degree, you know, fifty thousand foot high overview of seniors and their dental practices, what goes on out there, great questions.
– So I have worked in dentistry for over twenty years now and I worked in Bainbridge, very affluent community as a dental hygienist for a group practice dentist. We had five hygienists, two dentists, and just an amazing practice, and patients came in that had ability to pay for dental care that could keep up on their dental health. It was an affluent community. And I’ve also had the opportunity to work in farm communities in Montana and Wisconsin and Minnesota throughout my career, where maybe people don’t have the finances to do everything to restore their teeth in their mouth. What I’ve seen in all these different areas that I’ve worked throughout my career, and especially since I got the opportunity to be in the same dental practice for fifteen years on Bainbridge, I saw we offered our patients amazing dental care services. And in America, we are aging people with teeth. Prior generations, we did not have the ability to do all of the anesthetics and the fillings and implants and all of this dentistry that kept people having teeth their whole lifetime. So as people aged in previous generations, they would loose teeth, pull teeth, maybe have dentures. Um dentures everyone says aren’t great, which they aren’t. However, a denture can come in and out your teeth if you’re having tooth pain and you can’t afford traditional dentistry, or you can’t get into the dental office even if you have the money. It’s a big problem when two concerns aren’t addressed. And so the practice I was in on Bainbridge patients I personally cared for for that many years in a preventative hygiene way, along with the dentist doing the restorative work that needed. All of a sudden, I wouldn’t see the husband or wife for a while, and then it would be for a few years, and then the spouse would come in and say, “I feel so terrible. My spouse hasn’t been in because they’re in a nursing home now.” And my first case that I will not forget ever was a patient that came in and it’s before I started sound I don’t care on my own, and the husband came in and said to me and the dentist, my wife sat a nursing home down the road and she probably has about ten or fifteen teeth that have broken off in the last two years because I haven’t gotten her in here. And they had money, They had money, and they always came in and so the dentist and I looked at each other and he said, Sarah, you’re kind of starting up sound dental care. You need to go and take care of her. And unless your heart, I took care of her until the end of the life and it was five years. So it’s pretty amazing.
– Yeah. Well, you know, and I know for so many people in my realm, it’s like it’s expensive. It’s outrageously expensive to go forward. Especially as you get older, is when your teeth start to deteriorate, right and um, and you know how many of us have, you know, have habits that we may not necessarily floss regularly. That there’s all kinds of dental good practices, best practices in maintaining your teeth and gums. You know, for me, I’ve always been an avid flosser, and you know, I look at my my mouth and I go, you know, I’m really lucky compared to my friends because I have taken care of my teeth. Now, I’ve also done some things like I’ve whitened, had him whitened a couple of times, and things like that. So it’s not like I’m not doing some things. But there’s still that the normal process of aging that happens. And I think a lot of us are fearful to go to the dentist, you know that are over the age of 65, because they’re afraid of what their dentist is going to find. And so we tend to put it off, or we tend to think, oh, even if they diagnose something, I wouldn’t be able to pay for it anyway. And I’m sure I would guess, Sarah, are there a lot of people out there that just they get a diagnosis from a dentist and then you never see him again. You give them this big, you know, whopping $10,000 bill it’s going to take to fix your mouth, and then they turn around and they can’t afford it.
– I would say yes, hygienists and dentists work together traditionally, However, our perspective is always prevention, preventing disease and gum disease, restoring the mouth to health. Dentists also are about that in a different way. We are the gung-ho people and the all hygiene and talking about habits at home, where the dentists tend to be the part of the practice that restores things when there’s problems, and supports the rest of the team. So as a hygienist, my goal has always been and I would say this is true for almost all hygienists, we’re about advocating for health and we don’t want problems to happen. And so I’ve always chosen to educate my patients and not shame my patients. If someone’s not flossing, I’m going to let them know the harm and not doing these things, and I’m not going to shame them. I’m going to try to find ways to encourage them. And as you said, um, as we age, we are more likely to get decay and periodontitis, and as we age, we’re on more medications due to co-morbidities and different diagnoses, and so medications lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth leads to decay. So as a hygienist, when the patient comes into have their teeth clean, I’m going to try to give them every tool they can to help with their dry mouth. So they’re home and sucking on sugar candies and coming in with the mouth full. And that’s another thing that we tent to want to do is eat more sweets. So obviously that goes. So so as you know, I’m thinking this through and when you’re talking about dry mouth and you know, so obviously hydration is huge. There’s all kinds of things that seniors may not necessarily do as much as they should. Um, the foods they’re eating, they’re probably not eating things that are that are crunchy or you know, or things that can help breakdown things, rather than they’re eating soft foods like soft ice cream and things like that, which obviously can’t be as good. I would imagine two. Because you’re not using your gums. And I’ve noticed too with a lot of people that there’s gum disease that happens if you’re not flossing or not brushing appropriately. Is there not?
-This is true and as we age, the health conditions come. So even if you were someone that’s lost at one point in your life, but now you have paralysis on one side or good point, maybe there’s some depression that has come up as you’ve aged and you’ve just lost your ability to do yourself care as you once did. There are many co factors that go into why oral health is failing as we age. However, keeping people in a routine habit of seeing their hygienist, having a dental care visit, regardless of their age and where they are in life, whether at home or at a nursing home, it is so important.
– I actually finished my schooling last year to become a licensed denturist as well, which is making prosthetic teeth for patients that have no teeth. And I had to do a research paper and one thing I found which I was just flabbergasted that for Alzheimer’s patients, the action of chewing and masticating food actually helps the brain and function.
– I believe that.
– Yeah, when one loses that ability to chew, whether you go on a special diet because of a stroke or something like that, or because you’re missing a lot of teeth because you can’t afford for them to be restored, that that affects our brains. You know, Sarah, this is really good information. And you know, as we’ve talked about this, whole issue. It’s like, I’m really interested in our next segment for us to talk about the dental industry as a whole um, what’s going on right now, how our seniors quote unquote being served, and you know, how can we make it better? And how do you make it better? Sarah and I will be right back.