Do you or someone you care about have trouble enjoying a healthy diet due to problems with chewing food? Natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime. More importantly, the chewing of food should be enjoyed for one’s lifetime. Senior dental health is threatened by the same decay processes as other age groups, with sugary liquids and sticky sweets as major culprits. But in seniors the risk of getting cavities is amplified by changes in one’s saliva. Many common prescription medications are known to include “decreased saliva flow” in the list of side effects. Saliva is necessary to buffer acids in the mouth. When saliva flow is diminished, root surfaces of teeth are especially vulnerable to decay because the tooth root lacks the protection of enamel. If gum tissue has receded away from the harder enamel, root surfaces are exposed. Advancing age may show a decline in manual dexterity, making personal dental care more difficult and less effective. When caregivers are involved, lack of knowledge and willingness to perform proper dental care may accelerate a cavity problem.
The best news is that most options for maintaining optimum dental health in the larger population are available to senior adults, too.
Optimal oral health care can be maintained in our senior years; and in some aspects even regained where once absent. Hopefully these straight-forward self-help suggestions seem doable!
– Avoid sipping sugar-laden liquids outside of mealtime
– Keep the plaque off by brushing your teeth after every snack and meal
– Use an inexpensive, motorized tooth brush near the gum-line, slowly moving it around your mouth for at least 1 minute
– Clean between your teeth daily with easily-to-hold floss-picks or toothpicks
– Use a fluoride rinse daily
– Look between your teeth near the gum-line to see if you are keeping them smooth and clean.
Advances in medical science allow many of us to live longer, and with those extra years comes added health maintenance responsibility. Do you value your natural teeth? The older we get, the more valid that question becomes!
Advancing age often brings diminished saliva flow and declining manual dexterity, a potential recipe for dental decay and dental disaster. Advancing age can also mean a tightening budget, challenging us to refine our spending pattern. We sometimes hear seniors consider lengthening the time between maintenance appointments for budget reasons, when shortening the interval to every 4-6 months may make more sense for disease-prevention reasons.
Our dental hygienists, Shanna and Nicole, are friendly and caring. A periodic maintenance appointment with either of them includes a gentle and complete cleaning; a thorough exam update with Dr. Loughran, including necessary radiographs; and personalized home care instruction. The fee is fixed at $108.
When an adult tooth “needs fixing” we assume the best option is the one predicted to last the longest. Should the same reasoning apply in our Senior Years?
The most important consideration in treatment planning dental care for seniors is the expectations of the senior!
– “Can you afford to loose this tooth”?
– “How do you feel about wearing a removable appliance”?
– “Is comfort and the ability to chew more important than appearance”?
For seniors, the answers to these very questions best determine their course of treatment. Dr. Loughran often suggests that “when you have enough information you will know what is best for you”. We can help you make a plan for enjoying dental health at any age.