Caring For Your Teeth As You Age

Aging brings many changes to our bodies, including our teeth and gums. As we grow older, our mouths become more susceptible to dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and oral cancer. That’s why it’s so important for seniors to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and receive regular dental checkups. 

At the Kennett Center for Advanced Dentistry, Dr. Peter Patellis and our caring team understand the unique dental needs of older adults and provide customized care to help them maintain optimal oral health.

How Aging Affects Oral Health

The aging process affects our mouth in a few key ways. Our gums naturally recede over time, exposing more of the tooth surface and root to potential decay. Older adults also produce less saliva, which helps wash away bacteria and food debris. Without adequate saliva flow, we’re more prone to cavities, gum disease, and other oral infections. Certain medications can further reduce saliva production, compounding the problem. man getting his new dentures

On top of that, decades of clenching and grinding can cause teeth to become worn and cracked. Bone loss in the jaw also becomes more likely with age. All these age-related changes make it extra important for seniors to protect their teeth.

Importance of Regular Dental Visits

Regular dental visits allow us to closely monitor the oral health of our mature patients and detect problems early. We generally recommend that seniors see the dentist every six months. More frequent visits may be needed if they have issues like gum disease, dry mouth, or ill-fitting dentures

At appointments, we thoroughly examine the teeth, gums, tongue, and other tissues to check for signs of decay, infection, sores, or oral cancer. Early detection of cavities and gum disease is key, as these conditions become more complex and difficult to treat in later stages. We also assess the fit of dentures and look for any loose or damaged teeth that may require extraction.

Preventive Care

In addition to examinations, we provide cleanings to remove the plaque and tartar that tend to build up more quickly in seniors. Thorough cleanings every six months help prevent destructive gum disease. For patients with dry mouth, extra fluoride treatments can help fortify vulnerable tooth surfaces against decay. If we spot any suspicious lesions, we’ll quickly refer patients to a specialist for biopsy. The earlier precancerous tissues and oral cancers are identified, the better the prognosis.

Dental X-rays allow us to detect cavities between teeth and under old fillings. We take X-rays judiciously, using high-speed films and thyroid collars to limit radiation exposure. Other advanced diagnostics like intraoral cameras and dental microscopes aid in finding small problems. We want to catch issues before they become advanced decay, abscesses, or tooth loss.

Restorative Treatments

While prevention is ideal, many older adults do require dental work to maintain health and function. We restore damaged or missing teeth with convenient, comfortable, and long-lasting dental restorations.

  • Dental implants anchor artificial teeth in the jawbone, providing a permanent replacement for missing teeth. 
  • Partial and full dentures are removable options when implants aren’t feasible. We take care to design dentures that are stable and easy to insert and remove. 
  • Crowns and bonded restorations repair fractured or worn teeth. Bridges span gaps left by lost teeth.

No matter what type of prosthetic, we ensure proper fit to prevent pressure sores and allow proper chewing and speech. With age, the shape of our jaws and bites can change. We adjust appliances accordingly for optimal comfort and performance. Regular dental visits allow us to check for loose dentures, damaged crowns, and other issues so we can make timely repairs. We want your smile to look its best and work efficiently for years to come.

Treating Dental Diseaseselderly couple laughing and smiling by a lake

For patients with gum disease, we provide deep cleanings and may prescribe antibiotics or antimicrobial rinses. Extracting hopeless teeth can stop disease progression. Those with dry mouth can use moisturizing gels and prescription stimulants to boost saliva flow. To reduce infection risk, some older adults take preventive antibiotics before extensive dental procedures. 

Experience Caring Dentistry as You Age

Aging brings unique challenges to maintaining oral health. However, with regular dental exams and cleanings, early disease detection, prompt treatment, denture adjustments, and conservative restorations as needed, seniors can keep their teeth functioning well and their smiles looking bright. 

We focus on preventive care and gentle, customized service to meet the needs of mature patients. The whole Kennett Center dental team looks forward to providing your family with exceptional dental care! Please call us at (610) 444-6311 to schedule your next visit.