Seniors Dental Health Information

Certain conditions can occur in seniors that would not normally be found in younger individuals and that can affect the health of their teeth, as well as their overall physical well being. Usually, there is more than one restorative solution for repairing broken-down and missing teeth. A consultation with Dr. Austin will help you choose the best restorative solution for your situation. You can help keep your permanent teeth longer by replacing missing teeth, brushing and flossing daily, and having regular dental check-ups and professional tooth cleanings. Stopping smoking or chewing tobacco and maintaining good nutrition will also help you achieve the optimum in oral health. The following conditions that may be of concern and which should be evaluated by us at Austin Family Dental are:

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

A condition common to the elderly whereby saliva flow is decreased. The causes can include certain medical conditions, certain medications such as antihistamines, pain relievers and decongestants, among others. Other causes can be ill fitting dental appliances such as full or partial dentures.

Loss or Alteration in Taste

Many seniors experience the loss of their taste sensation as they age. This can occur as a normal result of aging. However, certain diseases and medications can increase the incidence of taste loss. Ill fitting dentures or other removable dental appliances can increase the alteration of taste. Patients should always notify Austin Family Dental and/or physician if they have any type of alteration or loss in their taste sensation.

Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)

The most common cause of tooth loss in adults is gum disease. Bacteria create toxins which inflame and irritate gum tissue. Over the years, a slow progressive detachment occurs that affects the supporting bone, which dissolves. Tooth loss eventually results, especially if left untreated. Older patients are more prone to this condition as a result of smoking, poor diets, poor oral hygiene habits and certain medical conditions. It is imperative that one have regular dental checkups at Austin Family Dental to determine if they have this condition.

Denture Care

Approximately 40% of older Americans wear full or partial dentures. Many have adapted quite nicely. However, many denture wearers have encountered problems, both emotionally and physically. Some people have trouble eating and some may have repeated sores, which can be quite painful. Some frequently asked questions are:

What is the best way to get used to my new dentures?

As with any new appliance, dentures may feel quite odd. They may cause increased saliva flow or they may alter speech. One should start by cutting food into small pieces, avoid hot foods, and avoid hard foods until the tissue, where the denture rests, becomes used to the new teeth. As time goes by, one will become accustomed to them.

Do I brush them like real teeth?

No, dentures should be cleaned, if possible, after each meal. The best way is to remove them and rinse them. If one is able to, brushing the dentures is advised, as well as rinsing the mouth to clean it of any debris. If some natural teeth do remain, brushing them is suggested. Always soak dentures at night after brushing them. Over the counter cleaning agents are available. Keeping the dentures soaked prolongs them from warping. It is also much healthier to keep the teeth out overnight to avoid excessive pressure on the soft tissue and bone. Always remember to brush your tongue and lightly brush the gums with a soft toothbrush. Special denture brushes should be used on the dentures.

When is it time for a new denture?

As the years pass, the tissue and bone may shrink slightly. The dentures will then loosen. Also, as one loses or gains weight, one may notice that the denture may loosen. Dentures, if the dentist advises, can be relined to help tighten them. However, if their bases are too far gone, a new one may need to be fabricated. As always, even a full denture wearer should visit the dentist on a regular basis to get an evaluation of the palate, tongue, and surrounding tissue for any problems. Sore spots should not be ignored. See the dentist if adjustments are needed at Austin Family Dental.

The Effects of Missing Teeth

Your teeth are mutually dependent on each other to maintain their natural position in your mouth. This positioning helps you chew while distributing your biting forces. When spaces are present due to missing teeth, movement will occur. If left untreated, other teeth will drift and tip into unoccupied areas. Teeth also migrate into spaces when opposing teeth are missing. To keep all your permanent teeth functioning and in their correct position, you need to replace missing teeth to maintain long term oral health. If left untreated, more complex dental treatment may be needed to restore your normal dental health. A bridge can be used to replace missing teeth and restore dental health. Teeth on both sides of the space are prepared and a bridge is permanently cemented or bonded into place.

Permanent Solution for Missing Teeth

Missing teeth may set off a chain reaction of dental problems over time that can change your bite and develop food traps. This can cause bad breath, tooth decay, periodontal disease and bone loss. Depending on the circumstances involved, fixed dental devices, like bridges or dental implants, may be a solution to restore the function of your teeth and improve oral health. Even orthodontics may be recommended to return the teeth to a more ideal position to improve function and/or cosmetics.

Removable Solutions for Missing Teeth

Upper or lower dentures usually are the best solution for persons with no teeth. In situations where many teeth are missing, but the remaining teeth are stable and healthy, a removable partial denture may be recommended. “Partials” allow patients to keep their remaining healthy teeth and replace missing teeth to restore form and function.


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