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Geriatric dentistry includes both patients over the age of 75, and patients who are younger but suffer from chronic illness, or physical and cognitive impairment. There are some elevated concerns for the development of caries, periodontitis, and other ailments including oral cancer in geriatric patients. Our staff at Summercrest Dental can help our patients better understand these conditions, and advise them on both oral hygiene routines to incorporate at home, or treatment if needed, going forward. Your oral health matters at every age, and there are steps to help you navigate each season of life to have a healthy smile.
Overall, geriatric patients follow the same advice that we give to all of our patients on daily brushing, flossing, and watching their diet. Older patients should also be aware of some conditions that can arise.
Known as xerostomia, dry mouth is common in geriatric patients. It is a decrease in the production of saliva. You may not be aware of the important role that saliva plays in your dental health. Saliva is a natural cleaning agent, removing food debris and plaque from your mouth. Patients can develop dry mouth from certain medications, from changes to their health, or even changes to their nutrition. We may want to discuss any known changes to see if we can elevate saliva production or discuss other possibilities.
Children often suffer from the development of caries, or cavities, on the surfaces of their molars because they are not the best at brushing their teeth and removing stuck food and plaque. Geriatric patients often suffer from the development of caries, or cavities, higher up on the tooth, closer to the root. Geriatric patients are at risk for root caries often due to the wearing of dentures, lack of dexterity for proper brushing, and diet changes.
Development of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can develop in anyone, especially if the patient smokes or heavily drinks, but studies have found that patients over the age of 45 are at an even higher risk. During your exam we will look for symptoms of trouble. This may include changes to the coloring or texture of your tissue, the development of bumps and lumps and more. If we spot anything unusual, we may ask to take a small tissue sample to be examined more closely in a biopsy.
Research has shown that teeth do become brittle with age, but there are ways to combat this. As we age, the dentin in our teeth does grow more brittle and the enamel dries out causing more cracks to occur. However, we also know that people with good oral hygiene and nutrition can often avoid developing brittle teeth. There are many causes for a person to develop brittle teeth, but there are also many ways to treat them.
Schedule an Appointment
At Summercrest Dental, we can help navigate your older years and keep a healthy smile. Whenever possible, protecting your natural teeth is best. If natural teeth are lost, we can discuss restoration options including implant retained full arch dentures. Your oral health is important. Call us at (503) 649-7701 today to schedule an appointment.