Dental Blog

The Geriatric Population and Dental Wellness

The age group 65 years and older is becoming an increasingly large segment of the dental health population. Dr. Huff and his staff in Kerrville, TX are treating the baby boomers and the ‘Silent Generation’ with much care and more pronounced effectiveness. Age, in and of itself, is not solely responsible for afflicting the geriatric population, yet certain medical conditions are more likely to develop as we get older.

Symptoms at the Forefront

  • Dry Mouth – Reduced saliva flow is the main cause of dry mouth. Many medications will also contribute to that feeling of paper in your mouth. Other possible causes of dry mouth include certain diseases, or radiation for cancer treatments, specifically to the head and neck areas.
  • Periodontitis – This gum disease can be more prevalent in older adults if left untreated. Tobacco products, forgetting to remove excess food particles from teeth through brushing and flossing, or poor fitting bridges and/or dentures can all contribute to periodontitis. The health of your gums can also be threatened by poor nutrition, and the onset of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and anemia. Each of these will impact the bacteria in gums that leads to further tooth decay.
  • Darkened Teeth – Dentin is a bone-like tissue that underlies tooth enamel. The deterioration of this in the elder population is typically caused by a lifetime of stain-inducing beverages and habits that result in greyed or yellowed teeth.

Not to be ignored, other symptoms could include root decay, certain medications to treat other diseases, sensitivity to local anesthetics or analgesics, and a diminished sense of taste. Each of these play a role in whether or not a person over 65 wants to invest in prioritizing their dental health.

Decreasing the Progression of Decay

There are precautions a senior citizen can take to minimize tooth decay and all of its ramifications. Once they are aware of their dental problems, they can seek help from a qualified dentist who understands the aging process and offers solutions.

Action Plan

  1. Visit your Dentist – A regular checkup twice per year is adequate for maintaining your oral health.
  2. Drink fluoridated water – As often as possible, drinking water with fluoride helps fight tooth decay. Most tap water in America contains added fluoride.
  3. Reduce the amount of teeth-staining foods – Red wine, beets, blueberries-these all have high levels of wonderful antioxidants, yet are rough on the discoloration of teeth as we age.
    Stop smoking or using tobacco products – Aside from smoking being harmful to lungs and heart, it is damaging to the enamel of your teeth.
  4. Brush and floss after meals – This is especially important due to the nature of food getting trapped in between spaces of the teeth, thus leading to the formation of bacteria.
  5. Take 1000 mg of vitamin C – A powerful antioxidant that wards off inflammation and diseases. Vitamin C, divided up into doses, will shore up the sturdiness of the gums and teeth and help reduce unwanted bleeding or bruising.
  6. Pay attention to your diet – Nutrition needs to be even more important in our aging years. After decades of eating and living with processed foods and sugars, your teeth may have suffered, but you can reverse the damage by making wise dietary decisions. It’s never too late to enhance your oral health.

Mouths change as we age. It is not uncommon for the geriatric population to have soft tissue problems leading to gingivitis, but a common sense action plan given by their dentist can provide serious benefits to their oral health. Dr. Huff is the leading dentist in Kerrville, TX, and with his knowledge and the care of his professional staff, he’ll make certain your dental wellness is priority.