How do you improve quality of life for elderly patients? Frauke Müller, Professor at the University of Geneva, Department of Gerodontology & Removable Prosthodontics and a well-known authority in the field, shares her thoughts and philosophy.
“When I hear the phrase ‘quality of life’ I instantly think of oral health—I guess it is a dental professional’s curse, and blessing. To me, oral health gives people the possibility to have a pretty appearance, feel confident that they can chew without problems, finish their meals and choose whatever food they want to eat. Pretty basic, don’t you think?
My specialty is geriatric dentistry. To me, there are four major areas where I feel that I truly add quality to the daily lives of my elderly patients.
- Restored oral functions. First and foremost, good dental care restores the oral functions and gives my patients the chance to eat and drink without problems.
- Less pain and fewer infections. Alleviating the pain of my patients and reducing the risk of infections is another important benefit.
- Better self-esteem. With the first two areas in place comes a feeling of well-being and more confidence in using your own teeth.
- A richer social life. We must not underestimate the social context—with improved dental health it is easier for a person to function normally and to feel normal among other people.
Most of the time, I carry out this work from my clinic at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, but I also take part in public health actions. The idea is to give people living at nursing homes access to proper dental care so that they too can experience better dental health and an improved quality of life.
Elderly patients are unique and need special dental care. And here is my wish for the future. I want to see implants that require less invasive procedures, which would make them more accessible for the elderly. I also want a reversible concept, meaning implants can be removed and replaced by other solutions if necessary. I think that would add even more quality of life to my patients. That is why I do what I do.”