Geriatric dentistry, also known as geriodontics, is dental care for elderly adults, and involves prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The problems associated with geriatric dental care include treatment of problems associated with normal aging or age-related illnesses.
There are several things elderly need to be aware of to properly care for their teeth. Age, alone, is a factor in the health of teeth as well as the level of care given.
Often times, the mouth is referred to as “the mirror of all health,” meaning that if the oral cavity is not healthy, the rest of the body is likely to fall apart as well. Oral health plays a huge impact on overall, general health. This puts the elderly at higher risk as they are naturally prone to age-related diseases.
Some of the more critical diseases that elderly need to be aware of include: periodontal disease, root caries, oral ulcerations, oral cancers, xerostomia, or dry mouth.
It is important for the elderly to closely monitor their oral health. Some of the more common conditions to be aware of are outlined below.
Changes in dentin will cause teeth to darken over time. Dentin is the layer of bone-like tissue just under the enamel affected by stain-causing food and beverages.
Reduced saliva flow reduces dry mouth. Medication side-effects can be the cause of dry mouth. It is important for the elderly to stay properly hydrated to help with dry mouth symptoms.
Stray food particles that are stuck between teeth cause gum disease and it is worse for elderly with dentures. It is important for those wearing dentures to properly brush their teeth or rinse their mouths out between meals. This will prevent bacteria from causing gum disease.
According to a clinic that does dental implants in Indianapolis, for the elderly, particularly, there is a high risk of denture-induced stomatitis. This occurs when there is a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans, which is prevalent in situations where dentures are ill-fitting or not properly cared for. The tissue lying under the denture is inflamed in this situation and can be very painful. Thorough cleaning of dentures is necessary to prevent stomatitis.
Just as in their earlier years, it is important for the elderly to take good care of their teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are still good habits for healthy teeth to survive.