Caring for Elderly Patients
Dental needs and oral care don’t ease with age; instead, dental health approaches and types of dental conditions change, which is why geriatric dentistry is its own specialty. Older patients can require different methods of care due to disabilities, neurological conditions, or other medical conditions that can impede dental services younger adults have come to expect as routine.
Having a dentist who is able to provide dental care is essential for the health and well-being of elderly patients’ teeth.
How Dental Needs Change for Elderly Patients
Older patients face more oral health risks than younger patients, including:
- Dry mouth: saliva flow can be significantly reduced due to radiation treatments, certain medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, medication side effects, and the natural progression of age.
- Darkened teeth: Thinning of the outer enamel, changes in dentin, and lifestyle choices can allow the darker yellower dentin to show through the enamel or be a sign of a more serious health condition.
- Root decay: caused by the exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids, they become exposed as the gums recede.
- Gum disease: caused by plaque, tobacco use, poorly fitting bridges and dentures, poor diet, or medical conditions.
- Uneven jawbone: caused by tooth loss without replacement
- Thrush: diseases or drugs that affect the immune system can cause the overgrowth of a fungus in the mouth.
These dental conditions are more common in elderly patients, but that isn’t what creates the need for specialty dental care. Older patients may have medical conditions like arthritis that prevent them from having regular dental care habits or be unable to walk or sit in a dental chair. Having the equipment to provide care for people is essential, no matter their physical condition, and the understanding to help them maintain good hygiene habits when usual techniques aren’t possible.
Specialty training and knowledge are also required for working with patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. A geriatric dentist should be experienced with treatment planning and providing services to seniors who may require more patience and compassion than the average patient.
Geriatric Dentistry Treatments
The importance of oral health and proper treatment never diminishes, though the type of treatment and patient education varies with the needs of patients. Older patients are at risk for certain dental conditions and diseases, more so than younger ones, they also are more likely to receive the following treatments:
- Dentures, whether full or partial
- Dental bridges to fill gaps created by missing teeth, providing stability, and better chewing
- Dental implants, instead of removable dentures
- Gum disease treatments, such as scaling, root planing, or other periodontal therapies
- Oral cancer screenings
- Dry mouth management, including medication or saliva substitutes
- Tooth sensitivity treatments, such as desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride treatments
A Dentist With Experience Helping Elderly Patients
If you’re searching for a geriatric dentist in Bellevue to help maintain your health and deliver the care you need, look no further than the team at Bellevue Dentist.
Dr. Siamak Najafi is an accomplished dentist who has trained with the world’s leading dental pioneers. These days he teaches dentists from all over the world how to enhance the health and appearance of their patients’ smiles through state-of-the-art dentistry services.
Dr. Don Jayne is a nationally recognized leader in dentistry. He focuses on providing unparalleled expertise in cosmetic, general, implant, and sedation dentistry. He is dedicated to providing you with the most advanced techniques and effective technology available in dental care.
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