Dental Exams for Seniors
By Dr. Collier on August 24, 2020
Seniors face unique oral health challenges. Some conditions, such as arthritis, make it more difficult to brush and floss properly. Additionally, certain medications can cause dry mouth, resulting in a higher risk for decay, gum disease, and more.
At Southern Dental Implant Center in Cordova, TN, our dentists provide top-tier, compassionate dental care for patients of all ages in Memphis, TN, and surrounding areas. In this article, we discuss the importance of dental exams for seniors and explore some of the specific challenges faced by patients over the age of 65.
The Importance of Dental Care for Seniors
Bacteria found in the mouth has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, pneumonia, and diabetes. By promoting better oral health, seniors can reduce the risk of more serious medical conditions.
Common Oral Health Problems in the Senior Population
While no one is exempt from oral health issues, there are certain conditions that commonly affect seniors. Older patients are typically more susceptible to:
- Dry mouth: This condition can be caused by certain medications as well as chemotherapy or radiation treatment. A decrease in saliva production increases the risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
- Root decay: Gum recession is more common in older adults. This condition exposes the teeth roots, which are more vulnerable to decay.
- Gum disease: This condition is caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. Symptoms include red, swollen, bleeding gums. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
- Darkened teeth: As we age, the protective layer of enamel wears thin. When this occurs, the underlying dentin is exposed, causing the teeth to appear dark or yellow.
- Tooth loss: Patients with untreated gum disease are at a much higher risk for tooth mobility and loss.
- Jawbone atrophy: If teeth have been missing for some time, the supporting jawbone can lose volume and density over time. This can also cause the facial features to sag and look aged.
- Oral thrush: Certain medications can increase the risk for thrush, a common fungal infection in the mouth.
What to Expect during a Senior Dental Exam
During a senior dental exam at our practice, your dentist will perform a full evaluation of your teeth and gums. An oral cancer screening is also conducted to detect any lumps, bumps, or other abnormalities. Scans and x-rays are taken to check the bone levels around the teeth and detect hidden areas of decay or damage.
Our team will also discuss your medical and dental history in detail. Let your dentist know if you have any concerns about your oral health, as well as any recent changes in your dental function.
Oral Hygiene Recommendations for Seniors
Individuals of all ages should practice good oral hygiene. Here are a few recommendations from our team:
- Brush your teeth two to three times a day using a soft-bristled brush and nonabrasive fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between the teeth at least once every day using traditional floss or interproximal brushes.
- Swish with an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Attend routine dental exams and cleanings at intervals recommended by your dentist.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you are seeking comprehensive dental care for yourself or a family member, reach out to a team member at Southern Dental Implant Center. Our team is committed to providing high-quality dental care to Cordova, TN, and surrounding communities. To learn more about senior dental care, or to schedule a consultation at our practice, contact us online or call us at (901) 756-0078.
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“I have been a patient of Dr. Jason Collier's for many years and have always been treated with the utmost respect and professionalism. His staff is the friendliest dental staff I have ever encountered and I highly recommend this office for any dental needs!” Kathleen M.