As we age, our bodies become more vulnerable. Our teeth and gums are no exception. Seniors are at a higher risk of developing decay and infections due to the bacteria in the oral cavity. Additionally, dexterity difficulties or medications can exacerbate these issues, resulting in serious dental problems. Fortunately, our team at Walnut Pond is knowledgeable about the unique challenges seniors face. At our Annandale, NJ practice, Drs. Carson Ferris-Zeolla and Victoria Uryniak provide senior dental care so our patients can preserve their smile and enjoy life.
Dental Concerns for Seniors
Seniors are more susceptible to a host of dental issues. Some of these include:
- Loss of Enamel: As you age, the enamel on your teeth can wear thin, exposing more of the dentin underneath. This may cause the teeth to appear darker, and it may lead to sensitivity.
- Gingivitis: Seniors are more susceptible to gum inflammation. This can be caused by a myriad of factors, including certain medications, systemic diseases, poor diet, or poor hygiene, among other things.
- Periodontal Disease: If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontal disease. Unfortunately, some patients are more genetically prone to gum disease. If you have a family history of periodontal issues, you may necessitate more frequent cleanings.
- Gum Recession: Many people experience gum recession as they age. This is characterized by the gum tissue pulling away from the tooth, exposing more of the tooth root. Because the roots are not protected by enamel, recession can lead to root deterioration.
- Dry Mouth Syndrome: The production of saliva can decrease as we age. This condition is often exacerbated by certain medication which can cause dry mouth.
- Tooth Decay: Several factors can make patients more vulnerable to tooth decay, including dry mouth and bone loss.
- Oral Thrush: Certain drugs or diseases that directly affect the immune system can initiate the overgrowth of oral Candida albicans.
Dental Hygiene Tips for Senior Adults
Being well-informed is the best way to combat dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. These recommendations can help you prevent common dental issues:
- Brush after every meal, if possible
- Floss at least once per day
- Purchase a toothbrush that can easily clean hard-to-reach areas
- Familiarize yourself with warning signs, such as extreme sensitivity, pain, swelling, loose teeth, mouth sores, lumps or bumps, jaw popping or clicking, constant thirstiness, etc.
- Maintain restorations and oral appliances
- Attend routine dental exams and cleanings
- Always inform your dentist about current medications or supplements
The Importance of Routine Exams and Cleanings
Recent studies have shown an undeniable link between oral health and overall health. If bacteria are present in your mouth, they are also present in your bloodstream. Therefore, infection-causing bacteria can be carried to your major organs and lead to serious medical problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. By attending routine dental exams and cleanings, and practicing excellent hygiene at home between visits, you are giving yourself the best chance for overall wellbeing.
Personalized Care for Optimal Health
Because each patient is unique, properly maintaining oral health can look different for everyone. For example, if you have a fixed denture, your hygiene routine will differ from someone who wears a partial. Our team of professionals is here to help you build an at-home oral hygiene regimen that will address your specific dental needs. We can work with you to determine which brushes, floss, and cleaning aids will help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful.
Contact Us to Learn More
At Walnut Pond, we offer treatments in preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry to help patients of all ages attain the smile they wish for. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us online, or call our office at (908) 200-7007.