Older adults need extra care and medical attention. It is natural for our health to deteriorate as we grow old. One of the things that we should consider in caring for the elderly is providing geriatric dental care. But what exactly is geriatric dentistry? By definition, geriatric dentistry is a special practice to ensure your teeth are in great health. It involves the diagnosis, treatment, and dental care for older adults with age-related diseases. To save some money, you can ask the help of No Gaps Dental’s bulk billing dentists.
Who Needs Geriatric Dental Care
Geriatric dentistry is generally for older adults specifically those who are 65 years old and above. Dentists believe that oral health must be well cared for to prevent other health complications. This is because our dental health plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health.
Moreover, the doctors in geriatric dentistry can also perform the jobs of a general dentist. Their special practice enables them to create different kinds of programs designed for senior care.
According to data, a huge rate of older adults has compromised dental health due to a lack of professional care. Moreover, a lot of them show unlikeable sensitivity to medication prescribed by dentists. They also have a higher probability of experiencing dental complications that are related to aging. Some of the common conditions that geriatric dentists treat include root caries, periodontal disease, and dry mouth.
Importance of Geriatric Dentistry
So why is it important for older adults to receive care through geriatric dentistry? Below are the reasons why your grandparent should visit a geriatric dentist:
Preventing Harmful Drug Interactions
Due to aging, older adults tend to take several medications. Most of them take prescribed and over-the-counter medicines that could potentially have harmful effects if interacted wrongly. Medical professionals that specialize in geriatric dentistry take these things into consideration when caring for their patients.
Empathy and Solicitude
Old age could get the best of us. Most geriatric dental patients are older adults that might exhibit odd behaviors. It is also common for them to have physical and cognitive disabilities. These impairments could interfere with the treatment and dental procedures. That is why geriatric dentists are trained extensively to provide services with utmost patience and empathy. To provide high-quality dental care for their patients, specialists in geriatric dentistry furnish their clinics with calming ambiance.
Since most older adults are fond of televisions and radio, you will most likely see these appliances in dental clinics.
Other Significance of Dental Care For Seniors
It’s sad to think that dental hygiene is often neglected. Not everyone is aware that it is one of the most important health care that we should prioritize. While it’s normal for our dental health to decline as we age, there are safety precautions that we can do to prevent extreme dental problems when we get old.
Older adults need to make their oral care a top priority to prevent the following health issues:
According to dentists, there is a solid connection between oral and cardiovascular health. A lot of doctors have concluded that if a patient has gum disease, there is a high risk of them getting heart disease as well. Stroke, heart attack, and other heart conditions might take place if dental hygiene is neglected.
As a matter of fact, simple dental problems such as cavities could potentially cause heart disease.
The most common result of poor dental care is gum disease. Older adults are not the only ones that are suffering from this, even younger individuals can have gum disease. Gum disease occurs due to plaque build-up that is not removed from the teeth. It becomes a risk for seniors when the plaque starts to infect even their dentures.
Due to old age, older adults are more susceptible to various health and dental diseases. One of those diseases is pneumonia. But did you know that poor dental care could also be the cause of pneumonia in seniors? This happens when the air they breathe has bacteria. The best way to prevent it is by regular cleaning the mth where air usually comes through.
Since teeth stains are often due to colored foods that we eat, a lot of people think that it’s not a serious problem to deal with. But that is where they are wrong. Discolored teeth commonly indicate poor oral health and an underlying dental condition that needs medical attention. In some cases, teeth discoloration is also due to the thinning of the enamel.
Diabetes is a common problem in seniors nowadays. After years of eating unhealthy meals and foods that are high in sugar, diabetes could occur. Diabetes is a serious problem mainly because it will generally put your life at risk. How is it related to dental health? Periodontitis will make your immune system weak and unable to fight infection. When this happens, the body’s ability to regulate insulin will get affected. Thus, resulting in other complications.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
A dry mouth is when the mouth is not producing enough saliva for moisture. Saliva is important to prevent the spread of bacteria in the mouth and other areas of the body. There are several reasons why a dry mouth could take place. To name a few, here are some of its causes:
- Side effects of medication. Medications for depression, anxiety, allergies, psychotic disorders, and many more could decrease the production of saliva. Thus resulting in a dry mouth.
- Symptom of specific diseases. Diseases like HIV, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and anemia have plenty of symptoms, including a dry mouth.
- Treatments. People who are undergoing chemotherapy might experience dry mouth as well as a side effect of the treatment.
- Nerve damage. If you damage the nerves at the back of your head or areas in your neck, a dry mouth could come up.
- Dehydration. Water plays a vital role in maintaining our overall health. In fact, a human body could last for up to three weeks without food but with an adequate amount of water.
- Removal of salivary glands for treatment purposes.
- Unhealthy lifestyle. Smoking and chewing tobacco frequently and for a long period of time could trigger dry mouth.
Root decay is also pretty common in older adults and is due to several reasons. Foods that are acidic could tear down the teeth’ enamel, plus the fact that our gums naturally recede with age is what causes root decay. During the gum recession, the root is gradually getting exposed to bacteria and other factors that could contribute to decay. This happens because, unlike our teeth, the gums do not have a protective layer that will shield them from infections.
Geriatric Dentistry For The Elderly
Dental care for older adults is almost just the same with younger individuals. The only difference is that at their age, there are certain difficulties that they face due to old age such as follows:
- Regularly cleaning dentures
- Difficulty holding the toothbrush
- Gum diseases
- Decay coming from teeth roots
- Missing teeth and damaged fillings
In geriatric dentistry, the doctors ensure that the patients are educated on how to make things easier for them. If they have a personal caretaker, they will also be given instructions in caring for their patient’s dental health.
Improving Senior’s Dental Health
One of the main objectives of geriatric dentistry is to ensure that their patient’s dental health is well cared for. Some of the advice geriatric dentists give includes the following:
- Teeth brushing at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- For elderlies, electric toothbrushes can be of great help.
- Use dental floss regularly.
- Rinse with mouthwash every day.
- Cleaning of dentures daily.
- Removable dentures must be removed at night.
- Use oral products with fluoride.
- Dental visits according to schedule.
- Importance of healthy and well-balanced diet.
Moreover, choose a geriatric dentist that is well-known for having compassion for their elderly patients. Taking seniors to dental appointments will be much easier if they trust their doctor.
You may opt to search for a clinic with good reviews for dentistry services. DDII in Gosford caters to patients of all ages.