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Maven Dental Gosnells, 2364 Albany Highway,Gosnells WA 6110 View Location

Older Adults

Oral diseases experienced by the older adult are either preventable or treatable.

However many older persons do not avail themselves of the much needed treatment. Most persons currently older than 60 years were not introduced to the concept of preventive dentistry at a young age and thus are not used to the idea. The great news is that it is never too late. Our team of dentists can provide optimum care for teeth throughout all the stages of life and ensure that you adopt practices that will supplement their treatments perfectly.

In order to help your dental care team, you need to inform them of any changes in your mouth and also stay alert between visits about the following:

Changes in teeth and supporting tissue
Tissues in your mouth, like other body tissues, change as you grow older. Soft tissues like gums and cheeks lose their ability to stretch and muscles become soft and weak. The amount of saliva produced by glands in your mouth is less. As a result, chewing becomes more difficult, and your mouth becomes more easily irritated and heals more slowly than when you were younger.

The rate of tooth decay may increase as you grow older. This is especially true when the amount of saliva is lower. Tooth decay in older adults often appears around the teeth near the gums. Saliva is a key component of plaque formation. Without saliva, food can stick to the teeth more easily, which contributes to plaque formation. When plaque becomes harder it is called calculus. The root portion of a tooth, when exposed, is easy to decay. Gumline or root decay is difficult to repair with fillings.

Periodontal disease
You may have periodontal disease if your gums are swollen or if they bleed easily. Pockets often develop between teeth and gums and can pack or trap food debris. This disease is generally found in many older adults. If not treated, the disease becomes worse. In the elderly, periodontal disease is a primary cause for loss of teeth.

Brittleness and wear of teeth
Nerve tissue and blood vessels are found in teeth. When you were young, these nerves were very responsive to pain or anything hot or cold. Your brittle teeth may be easily broken or chipped. However, due to the reduced nerve tissue, little if any pain is experienced when even severe fractures occur.

Teeth wear because of the grinding action of chewing. Tooth enamel becomes thinner. In severe cases, the hard enamel covering is completely worn away leaving a softer part of the tooth (dentin) exposed. Eating foods that are high in starch, such as sugars, honey or confectionary, can dissolve dentin. This can leave you with teeth with only a fragile enamel shell. These teeth are easily chipped or broken.

Tolerance to dentures
If you wear a complete or partial removable denture you want it to be comfortable and work well. Your satisfaction with dentures depends largely on the ability of the remaining ridges in your mouth to provide the necessary support. After teeth are removed, the remaining bone (ridge) continues to shrink to a smaller size. The gum tissue covering the ridge becomes thinner and is more easily irritated. The rigid, non-changing dentures do not fit as well. As a result, chewing hurts and can become difficult. This happens with nearly half of the dentures worn by elderly persons, and can change the types of healthy foods you might normally eat. Other factors can cause additional dental problems include:

Oral cancers
Oral cancer risk can increase with age. About three percent of all cancers are found in the jaws, lips, tongue and palate (roof of the mouth). The effect of oral cancers and their treatment can be awful. Surgical treatment often results in loss of a portion or all of the jaws, tongue or palate. Radiation (x-ray) therapy used to treat some oral cancers generally results in a lower amount of saliva. This means that your mouth may be sore and your teeth may decay more easily. All of these problems can stop you from eating normal, healthy foods.

Drug therapy
Treatment of some diseases (heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, Parkinson’s disease) may require the use of many medications. This may lower your saliva, which results in a very dry mouth and the problems we have discussed. What can we do to stop these problems, especially when you still have to keep taking your medications? Ask us for our advice.

Improving dental hygiene
Good oral hygiene is perhaps the simplest and most efficient way to promote comfort and help reduce the dental problems associated with aging.

  • Brushing: A medium soft brush and dental paste is recommended. For those incapable of gripping the handle, a rubber strap can be fastened to fit snugly around the hand. The brush may be easier to hold and control if a larger handle is made. Teeth, gums and tongue should be brushed at least once a day.
  • Flossing: Flossing removes materials from areas difficult to reach with a toothbrush — between the teeth and at the gum line. Flossing takes practice and is difficult if you have limitations in arm and finger movements. Ask your dentist about flossing tools to help you with this problem.
  • Rinsing: With a decrease in saliva, food particles adhere more readily to the teeth and gums. Rinsing with warm water will dislodge the particles. This is especially important if you have difficulty brushing. Rinsing, however, should not be considered a substitute for brushing. Mouthwash is helpful but irritating to gums because of its high alcohol content. Dilute the mouthwash with water.

Denture care
Wearing dentures does not mean that good oral care can be ignored. If you wear dentures, they should be removed after eating and rinsed with warm water. The mouth should also be rinsed well. Dentures also accumulate calculus like the teeth they replaced. Scrub your dentures with a stiff brush and cream to remove these deposits. For more information on any of the dental aids or cleaning procedures, consult one of our dentists. Our dentists can specially tailor a routine to provide the best means of cleaning your teeth and gums.

Eat a balanced diet for good oral health
Eating a variety of foods can help your teeth stay healthy. Foods that supply protein, vitamin A and vitamin C help to keep gums healthy. Foods with a lot of calcium and vitamin D such as cheese and milk are needed for strong teeth. Limiting sugary drinks and foods like soft drinks and high sugar snack foods may help decrease cavities.

Tooth loss and gum disease are not an inevitable part of the ageing process. The fact is, you can have control over your dental destiny. If you brush and floss every day and see your dentist regularly, you will improve your chances of maintaining healthy teeth and gums throughout your life.