Dental Care for the Elderly
As an individual ages it’s important that their dentist pay attention to the unique factors that can affect their oral health. Advanced age puts seniors at risk for a variety of issues they might not have faced before.
As a person ages the dentin that lies beneath the surface of their teeth’s enamel can begin to darken. This darkening can become more obvious as a person’s enamel shell thins over time. Darkening teeth can usually be attributed to a lifetime of enjoying foods that stain teeth, like coffee, chocolate, and red wine.
The direct result of a decrease in saliva flow and production, dry mouth is often caused by various medications elderly patients take, as well as certain cancer treatments. Oftentimes the solution to dry mouth is to simply suck on a hard candy to promote saliva production.
Root decay can lead to sensitivity when brushing. It is caused by a person’s tooth roots being exposed as gum tissue recedes. Because roots do not have enamel to protect them, they’re particularly vulnerable when exposed.
Poor Sense of Taste
Diseases, medications, dentures, and the natural process of aging can affect a person’s ability to taste.
This disease is the result of excess plaque, however, it can be made worse by bridges and dentures that don’t fit properly and cause food to get stuck in between them and your gums. Even if a patient has dentures, gum disease is something that should be treated because it can lead to further decay in surrounding teeth.
Good oral hygiene is particularly important for senior patients. This means that they should continue to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, use mouthwash, and visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings.
These regular visits are integral at this stage of a person’s life because it allows the dentist to stay in the loop about how their overall health is and gives them the opportunity to look for any abnormalities that may need to be addressed.
During a dental exam for seniors the dentist will inspect your mouth and check your bite. We will also look for any signs of oral cancer, such as oral lesions that have been around for a while. Additionally, the dentist will feel your neck and lymph nodes to look for swelling that is abnormal and in need of additional attention.
Finally, we will clean your teeth and, if you have dentures, inspect them to make sure you’re totally taken care of.