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Geriatric Dentistry

Your Teeth Can Last You A Lifetime

Although we may not want to face it, aging is inevitable. There are a lot of misconceptions that exist about geriatric dentistry, so we want to clear them up and help you keep a healthy smile throughout your whole life.

Learn more about our geriatric dentistry services below.

Geriatric Dentistry Transcription

“Geriatrics is a part of dentistry that deals with the elderly population. Unfortunately, we all age — whether you like it or not — and there are certain precautions and certain steps you can take to minimize the aging process in your mouth.

It’s pretty common sense — things that if you’ve been to the dentist on a routine basis, you just continue doing. It’s coming to the dentist every six months for cleaning, x-rays, and exams, and if you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease (which does increase in risk as you age) sometimes you’re recommended to come in more frequently. That can be four times a year, three times a year, or even twice a year.

Certain medications, again going with the aging process, can make your mouth dry, and that’s always a good thing for the dental team to know so we can address it if the medicines are reacting in such a way that makes your mouth dry and more prone to cavities. And as you age, your gums recede, hence the term “the longer the tooth.” Your tooth doesn’t grow — your gums recede, and that’s why the tooth for some people look longer. So with that, it carries a risk of getting decay along the root structure.

So again, knowing what medicines you’re on, anything we can do like prescribe high-strength fluoride toothpaste to help reduce the chance of cavities in the area. And the ultimate goal is to keep your teeth forever — that’s “from cradle to grave,” as the saying goes. People are living longer now, and one of the pleasures of life is being able to enjoy your favorite food without having any discomfort or any complications.

There are options if you do happen to lose a tooth or two. Dentures are conventional. Dentures, partial dentures, and implants are great ways to restore lost teeth or lost dentition. As time goes by, the implants are becoming more and more low and the prices are coming down. Dentures are okay, but they’re not stable. So, if we have to address that, probably an implant or a fixed type of restoration would be better than a denture or a partial denture if need be.

Tooth loss does happen regardless sometimes despite your best efforts — in an accident, [for example]. The key is not to be self-conscious about it. There are so many options these days to restore your smile and function — there’s a plethora of good ideas. Keep in mind that if it should happen, if you have a trauma or breakage or you lose any teeth (front teeth especially) please don’t feel self-conscious about coming in. That’s something we do on a daily basis, day in and day out — there are so many good options [to restore your smile] nowadays.”


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!


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

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 and 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 your overall health substantially!


#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 starts to decline. This not only makes food less enjoyable but can also pose health risks because of tendencies to over-salt your food (sweet and salty are often 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 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, 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, making them 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 that cause 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 the open spaces. This creates an uneven jawbone which can not only cause issues with the appearance of your smile but also 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, you can end up with inflammation of the tissue under your dentures, called Stomatitis, which makes wearing your appliance very uncomfortable.

To help protect yourself against stomatitis…

  • Remove and rinse dentures after eating.
  • Clean your mouth with a toothbrush after removing your dentures. 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. This can lead to 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 experience 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 that this is a treatment and 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.


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!

Please request an appointment online for a dental treatment consultation with one of our dental professionals.




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