As a practicing dentist with many decades of experience, I have seen many issues specific to the senior population.
This is due to many factors, including medications, changing oral bacteria, chronic disease, a lack of digital dexterity, and declining mental status. This can lead to an increase in both periodontal disease and cavities, especially root cavities and cavities under existing dental crowns and bridgework.
As we are all living longer, I am seeing more and more patients from an aging population with increasing dental needs. Here are a couple of steps which should be taken.
- Have regular dental checkups and cleanings and practice proper homecare. It’s much easier and less expensive to treat smaller issues. Brush, brush, brush, and floss, floss, floss. Brush twice a day and floss regularly. It has been shown that there is a direct correlation between periodontal disease and many systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and, most recently, Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, oral bacteria have been found in higher numbers in those suffering from these diseases.
- Always let your dentist know what medications you are taking and what medical conditions you may have. If there are any questions, he or she may to contact your treating physicians so that your dental treatment can be performed safely and without complication.
Many medications decrease salivary flow which can lead to dry mouth; this in turn often leads to an increase in cavities and periodontal disease. If necessary, a toothpaste with a higher fluoride content can be prescribed as well as saliva replacements and rinses.
Today’s dentistry is way different than the dentistry of yesteryear. Advances have been made to make your care safer, more comfortable, and more effective. So why not take advantage?
Dr. Richard Hochenberg is a Board Certified dentist with offices in Tarrytown and New York City. He can be reached at 914-631-7070.