Geriatric Dentistry: Things to Look Out For
It’s a simple fact of life that, as we get older, our bodies age and change accordingly. Dental health is no different.
Geriatric dentistry is the term given to dentistry specifically concerned with addressing dental problems associated with ageing processes. There are many diseases and dental problems that elderly people are more susceptible to, including things like gum disease, tooth decay, missing teeth and oral cancers.
While this may sound intimidating, if you ensure that you are aware of the potential for certain concerns to arise, then you should be able to maintain your dental health in a functional and effective way.
What is Geriatric Dentistry?
Geriatric dentistry relates to the management of dental issues that are specifically associated with the process of ageing. Geriatric dentistry is relevant to people at about sixty years of age and over. This is the period of a person’s life when certain dental issues start to become more pertinent than in the earlier years.
Common Dental Issues in Adults Over 60
With continued consumption of particular food (like blueberries, soy sauce and tomato sauce) and drinks (like coffee, tea and alcohol), or smoking, stained teeth become a problem for many people as they age. Enamel—the translucent layer on the outside of your teeth—also deteriorates over time. This means that the yellowish layer below the enamel, called dentine, starts to show through instead. We offer a number of teeth whitening and cosmetic dentistry services that can help with this if it is something you’re concerned about.
Missing teeth is an issue that is related to a number of other diseases that can arise as a result of ageing if you don’t care for your teeth. As you age, your teeth naturally become more sensitive. An increased possibility of things like periodontal disease can also be a prominent cause of tooth loss for adults. The key to avoiding and dealing with this is to ensure you make regular appointments with your dentist.
Because missing teeth becomes a more prominent issue as people get older, dental implants also become more popular as well. This is a surgical procedure and works to support other prosthetic procedures like crowns, bridges and dentures. The procedure involves inserting a fixed pin into your jawbone and attaching a porcelain crown to this.
As a solution for missing teeth, dental implants can improve your smile, improve your ability to eat and chew, thereby aiding the upkeep of the health of your teeth, gums and bones within your mouth.
As stated above, missing teeth become a much more pertinent issue later in life. With nerves losing some of their functionality, increased wear and tear and a decrease in tooth enamel occurring naturally over time for everyone, tooth replacements are a great option for those looking to maintain their perfect smile and age gracefully. Apart from dental implants, there are a number of other solutions for missing teeth including dentures, bridges and even orthodontic treatments.
Not only do these solutions help the aesthetics of your smile, but they will also prevent the drifting of remaining teeth and bone loss.
As people begin to age, cavities can become a problem when they may never have been before. From the age of around sixty we enter a second round of cavity prone years. Increasing dryness of the mouth is a common cause for this. Whilst not a normal part of ageing, dry mouths are a side effect of many medications which people use more as they get older. These medications include those for things like high blood pressure, cholesterol pain, depression, anxiety, asthma, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Ensure you inform your dentist of any medications you may be taking so they can help you relieve dry mouth. Remedies can include things like oral moisturising sprays or mouthwash, a humidifier or even simply drinking more water.
One can be more prone to getting dental cavities also because of reduced dexterity when brushing or flossing our teeth, leaving more plaque behind. It is for this reason a regular dental preventative hygiene visit is essential to keep your mouth free from plaque and tartar.
Gum disease is one of the most prominent issues facing older adults. Because many people don’t feel any pain, or recognise the signs of gum disease, until it is at its most severe stage. Gum disease or periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque. If not taken care of correctly, plaque can build up over time which is why gum disease becomes more prominent as we age. Because gum disease is often painless until it’s at its worst, it’s important that you remain aware of the signs and symptoms and visit your dentist regularly.
The key to maintaining good dental health and proper oral hygiene throughout your life is to ensure you visit the dentist at least every six months, and to establish a good routine at home. For more information about anything associated geriatric dentistry, or to book an appointment simply with our Camberwell Dental team: