1. As a senior adult, do I really need to be concerned about cavities any more?
Actually, cavities can be more frequent in older adults for a number of reasons. They may not have been exposed in childhood to fluoride in community water supplies and toothpaste, and adults are likelier to have decay around older fillings.
In addition, cavities in the tooth root are more common as gum tissue begins to recede in older adults, exposing the tooth root surface to decay. Also, dry mouth, resulting from the natural aging process and certain medications and diseases, can lead to more tooth decay. Without an adequate amount of saliva, food particles can't be washed away and the acids produced by plaque can't be neutralized.
2. My teeth have suddenly become very sensitive to both hot and cold, but my mouth is otherwise healthy. What could cause this?
Receding gum tissue could be the cause of sensitivity. As gum tissue pulls back away from teeth, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. A soft tissue graft would be the recommended treatment. Other treatment suggestions might include using a fluoride mouth rinse or switching to a toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth.
Visit your dentist to so that you can be diagnosed and treated properly.
3. Can braces still be an option for the senior adult?
There is no age limit for correcting misaligned (crooked) teeth. The mechanical process used to move teeth is the same at any age. So the benefits of orthodontic treatments such as braces are available to both children and adults who wish to improve their appearance and bite. The main differences between treatments in adults and children is that certain corrections in adults may require more than braces alone and the treatments may take longer because adult bones are no longer growing.
4. Are seniors more at risk for oral cancer?
Yes, the risk of oral cancer increases with age. Any lesion found on the tongue or anywhere in the mouth needs to be examined and closely watched. Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages is associated with oral cancer.
5. Is there anything that can be done to make my loose teeth more secure?
First, visit a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the gums and the supporting bones of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth). He or she will examine your condition, review your oral hygiene practices, and discuss your medical history. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can contribute to the problem of loose teeth.
6. How does long-term smoking impact oral health?
For one, smoking increases your risk of oral cancer. Other oral health consequences include delayed healing following tooth extraction and periodontal treatment, increased bone loss within the jaw, bad breath, and tooth discoloration.
7. Can dentists treat the elderly with moderate dementia?
The ideal time to take care of all necessary dental treatments is soon after the person has been diagnosed with dementia. This way, only easier maintenance treatments will be all that is needed as the person ages. However, the elderly with moderate levels of dementia can be treated and can receive anesthesia. Setting a dental appointment early in the day, when the person with dementia is most alert, may be best. Also, the caregiver needs to communicate to the person with dementia that he or she is going to the dentist and state the reason for the visit.
8. If an older person has few or no dental problems or even no teeth, does he or she need to see the dentist?
Even if you do not have teeth or only have had a few dental problems, it is wise -- especially as you age -- to visit your dentist at least once a year for a comprehensive oral exam. At this visit your dentist can look for signs of oral cancer as well as for any other oral health or medical problems in the mouth, head, and neck areas.