The Importance of Regular Dental Visits for Seniors

Mar 3rd, 2012 | By | Category: More dental news, Preventive Dentistry

Because of advances in oral health care and better access to dentistry, senior citizens are holding onto their natural teeth more now than ever before. However, good oral care at home and regular dental cleanings may not always be enough to keep your teeth strong and healthy once you reach retirement age. Seniors often face medical problems that make them more prone to tooth decay and gum disease and therefore need to be vigilant about following the advice of both their doctors and dentists. Here’s what Dr. Moiceanu wants you to know about dental care for seniors.

What oral health problems affect seniors?

Common issues requiring dental care include the following:

  • Receding gums. A common occurrence as you age, gum recession exposes the tooth roots, leaving them vulnerable to root decay. This part of the tooth is also not protected by enamel, so tooth sensitivity can occur when you are exposed to hot, cold, or sugary foods and drinks.
  • Dry mouth. This condition, also called xerostomia, does not naturally occur with aging, but seniors often take medications that cause dry mouth. Without the protective effect of saliva, you may develop gum disease, tooth decay, and oral thrush.
  • Periodontal disease. Gum disease can be caused by dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, or chronic health conditions such as diabetes. Periodontal disease can also make your existing medical conditions, especially heart disease and diabetes, worse.
  • Bone loss. The bones deteriorate somewhat with age, but if you have osteoporosis or wear dentures, you are at a higher risk of losing considerable bone mass in the jaw, which will change your facial appearance.

How can seniors prevent oral health issues?

You should brush and floss your teeth twice daily and see Dr. Moiceanu every six months for cleanings and checkups. If you have any special problems, he may recommend you see him more often so that he can stay abreast of any changes in your mouth. He may also recommend special products for you to use, such as a mouth rinse formulated for dry mouth. You should always inform Dr. Moiceanu of any changes in your health or medications since your last visit. Lastly, follow your physician’s recommendations about keeping your current medical conditions under control, including adhering to a proper diet, exercising, and taking your medications correctly.

Do I still need checkups if I have dentures?

Dentures present a host of problems for seniors, and you should have them checked frequently. Because they do not stimulate the jawbone like natural teeth, you will likely experience bone loss while wearing them. Dr. Moiceanu recommends replacing dentures with dental implants, which provide that necessary stimulation to the bone and will preserve your facial structure, giving you a more youthful appearance. Implants look, feel, and function like real teeth, so your quality of life will improve dramatically once they are placed.

Dr. Moiceanu treats patients of all ages, so call (510) 758-7222 to make an appointment today. Hilltop Family Dental serves patients in Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Vallejo, Pinole, El Cerrito, Hercules, Benicia, and the greater Contra Costa County area.

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