4 Common Conditions That Can Be Improved With Geriatric Dentistry

Older Man With Tooth Pain

photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

As you age, your smile may not be as healthy as it once was, but geriatric dentistry can help. Healthy gums and teeth are important at every stage of life, and if you’re struggling with your oral health, your dentist can help. Check out these four common problems in elderly patients and how they are prevented and treated.

Periodontal Disease

Although the CDC states that 70.1 percent of adults aged 65 years and older have periodontal disease, it isn’t a normal part of aging. With proper at-home dental care and routine dental cleanings/exams, you can prevent periodontal disease. However, if you already have gum disease, there are some treatments:

  • Deep cleanings that involve cleaning and smoothing the root to destroy plaque, tartar and bacteria
  • Antibiotic medications, gels and mouthwash that kill bacteria
  • Flap surgery, which reduces the gap between teeth and gums (a perfect hiding spot for bacteria)
  • Bone and tissue grafts to add volume to the gums or jawbone in the event of gum or bone recession

If you have gingivitis, the mild form of gum disease, these treatments may reverse it. Periodontitis or advanced gum disease isn’t reversible, but these treatments can reduce symptoms.

Missing Teeth

Missing teeth are also common in elderly patients, but there are a lot of ways your dentist can help you replace your missing teeth:

  • Dental bridges use existing teeth as anchors and bridge the gap to fill in the missing tooth or teeth
  • Dentures can be used to replace all or some missing teeth, and they are removable
  • Dental implants are implanted into the gums, and you can choose a single implant, an implant-supported bridge or implant-supported dentures.

Which option is best for you depends on many factors, such as how many teeth are missing, what types of results you want, the health of your gums/existing teeth and your budget. For example, dental implants are the most durable option, but they are also the most expensive, and they may not be good in patients with periodontitis. Your dentist can work with you to help you decide which option is best.

Tooth Root Decay

Enamel acts as a barrier to protect your teeth against plaque and bacteria. However, the roots of your teeth don’t have enamel, and if your gums recede, your roots may be exposed, leading to root caries or tooth root decay.

Treatments include:

  • Fillings that are used to replace the cavity, similar to normal cavities
  • Root canal treatment, which may be necessary if the cavity has reached the core of the tooth and caused infection
  • Gum grafts to recover and protect the roots of the teeth against future problems

Poorly-Fitting Dentures

When you have dentures, your jawbone slowly shrinks because there is nothing to stimulate it. Over time, this causes your dentures to become loose, making it difficult to eat and talk. If you’re tired of dentures that don’t fit right, here are a few treatments to consider:

  • New traditional dentures replace your old dentures and fit better because they use a fresh mold in your mouth
  • Soft or hard relines can be added to your existing dentures to recapture the shape of your mouth, allowing your dentures to fit more snuggly
  • Implant-supported dentures are removable but extremely sturdy, and they don’t have to be resized because the implants stimulate your jaw, preventing it from shrinking

Dental care is possible at any age, and geriatric dentistry is designed to help elderly patients. If you have any of these problems, contact Landmark Dental Group today and schedule an appointment.

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