Madison 608.274.5970
DeForest 608.846.3302

Madison 608.274.5970
DeForest 608.846.3302

Madison
608.274.5970

DeForest
608.846.3302

Geriatric Dentistry

Your Teeth Can Last You A Lifetime

Although we may not want to face it (we all have to at some point!), aging is inevitable.  Like all our body parts, as we age, so does our mouth. There are a lot of misconceptions that exist about Geriatric Dentistry, so we wanted to clear it up!

YOUR TEETH DON’T FALL OUT AS YOU AGE

One of the most common misconceptions about the aging teeth is that they will inevitably fall out as you get older. This is simply not true – if cared for properly, your teeth can last your entire life!

GERIATRIC DENTAL CARE TIPS

Dental care can be one of the things that falls by the wayside or forgotten as we age, but since dental health is connected to overall whole body health, it’s important that we keep oral health a priority so that you can keep those pearly whites.

Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)Pneumonia, and Heart Disease have all been linked to bacteria found in your mouth!

Here are some tips to keep your teeth + gums healthy as you age:

  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Floss at least once a day
  • If you wear dentures, make sure you leave them out for at least four hours a day. Leaving them out overnight is especially beneficial!
  • If you smoke… quit smoking. This goes without saying, but it would not only improve your gum and tooth health, but would improve your overall health substantially!

COMMON DENTAL CARE PROBLEMS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS

#1) Loss of Taste

You are born with 10,000 taste buds, but around the age of 50, the number of taste buds you have start to decline.  Not only does this make food less enjoyable, but it can pose health risks because of tendencies to over-salt your food (sweet and salty are oftentimes the first two tastes to leave us) which can lead to high blood pressure.   Although there isn’t a complete understanding of why this happens, there are a few ways to help combat loss of taste and keep your meals tasty:

  • Use more herbs or spices – This is a great way to avoid over-salting your food while still adding extra flavor.
  • Check the temperature – Food is obviously more enjoyable when it is at the temperature it is meant to be enjoyed at. Sometimes, to increase taste, you may want to make your food a little warmer or cooler than normal.
  • Make meals more social – Eating with others has been shown to help people eat well and get proper nutrition. Try a potluck or a community meal!

#2) Dry Mouth

Dry Mouth is extremely common for senior citizens and can be caused by a variety of things. No matter the cause, though, it is a problem that needs to be treated to keep your mouth healthy.

Here are some items to avoid that will cause dry-mouth that you should avoid:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Mouthwashes that contain alcohol
  • Acidic beverages and foods
  • Sugary gum, candy, cough drops and drinks

Click here to learn more about Dry Mouth!

#3) Loss of Nerves

As you age, keep in mind that the nerves in your teeth get smaller, meaning your teeth will be less sensitive to problems like cavities.

The best way to take care of your aging mouth is to get regular dental exams so a small problem doesn’t have the chance to snowball into a bigger one!

#4) Root Decay

Root exposure is very common in the elderly.  This can be caused by acids from food, which causes the gum tissue to recede from the tooth.   Since the root doesn’t have enamel to protect it, it’s more prone to decay.

To help protect yourself against root decay…

  • Brush and floss twice per day!
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • See your dentist for routine check-ups & cleanings

#5) Uneven Jawbone

If you unfortunately happen to lose a tooth and do not replace it with a false tooth, the rest of your teeth have a tendency to drift into open spaces creating an uneven jawbone which can cause not only issues with the appearance of your smile, but also issues with how you bite.

If you lose a tooth as an adult, don’t wait to visit a dentist!

#6) Stomatitis

If you wear poor-fitting dentures, have bad dental hygiene or a build up of the fungus also known as Candida Albicans, it can cause inflammation of the tissue under your dentures, called Stomatitis, which makes wearing your dentures very uncomfortable and painful.

To help protect yourself against stomatitis…

  • Remove and rinse dentures after eating.
  • Clean your mouth after removing your dentures using a toothbrush. Be sure to clean your natural teeth, tongue, cheeks and the roof your mouth (i.e. palate).
  • Brush your dentures twice a day (just like they were real teeth!)
  • Make sure you leave them out for at least four hours a day. Leaving them out overnight is especially beneficial!
  • Rinse your dentures before putting them back in your mouth, especially if you use a denture-soaking solution.
  • See your dentist if your dentures feel loose.

#7) Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

Periodontal Disease, more commonly known as Gum Disease is something that many people have and don’t notice – and therefore – leave untreated, which can lead more serious health problems like heart disease.

These are the signs to look for to identify if you may have gum disease:

  • Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
  • Swollen/tender/red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Visible pus
  • Pain when chewing food
  • Overly sensitive teeth

If you have any of these symptoms consult with your primary dentist for a referral to a Periodontist, like Madison Family Dental’s, Dr. Andrew Carmosino, DDS-Periodontist.

#8) Sleep Apnea

Prevalence of sleep apnea progressively increases with advancing age. Sleep apnea is 4 times more common in men, but post-menopausal women have sleep apnea/snoring at the same prevalence as men of the same age.

How do you treat it? CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP is a treatment that uses air pressure to keep the airways open. It requires you to wear a mask/machine at night while sleeping, but CPAP machines are lightweight and fairly quiet.  Keep in mind, this is a treatment, not a cure. Another option for treatment is an oral appliance called a mandibular advancement device. At Madison Family Dental, we offer multiple sleep apnea appliance options. Check them out here.

A HEALTHY MOUTH LEADS TO A HEALTHY YOU!

The best way to take care of your aging mouth is to get regular dental exams so a small problem doesn’t have the chance to snowball into a bigger one!