Dental Care for Seniors

Dental Care for Seniors

A healthy smile is important at every age, but as we age, our dental needs change. Seniors tend to require more restorative dentistry treatments than other age groups. Dentists offer a variety of restorative dentistry treatments to repair dental damage and improve oral health. Schedule a consultation to find out which treatments are right for you. In the meantime, read here to learn more about senior dental care treatments.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

Dental decay is another common problem for senior patients. Tooth-colored fillings offer a cosmetically appealing solution to treating dental decay and restoring oral health. Even old metal fillings can be replaced with tooth-colored fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are customized to match the surrounding tooth, making them completely unnoticeable.

Dental Crowns

For patients with broken or cracked teeth, or teeth with large dental fillings, dental crowns are a great treatment option. Dental crowns are tooth-shaped restorations that completely fit over a damaged tooth to improve appearance and dental function. Dental crowns can also save damaged teeth from extraction. Using CEREC® technology, Dentists are able to offer dental crown treatment in a single dental appointment, saving patients weeks of waiting and multiple appointments.

Dental Bridges

Missing teeth are a common problem for seniors. For those who are missing a few teeth, dental bridges may help. The most common dental bridges are made up of one or two artificial teeth with a dental crown on each side. The dental crowns attached to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. The artificial tooth in between the two crowns fits into the gap left by the missing teeth, replacing them and restoring dental function. There are different types of bridges to accommodate a variety of patient needs. Some bridges aer attached to one tooth while others can be attached to dental implants when multiple teeth are missing.

Dental Implants

Dental implants offer a permanent solution to missing teeth. Dental implants are metal posts surgically placed into the jawbone. These posts act as tooth roots and can be paired with dental crowns to replace individual teeth, dental bridges to replace a few teeth, or implant-supported dentures to replace a full set of teeth.

Gum Disease Treatment

Gum disease can strike at any age, but is particularly prevalent in senior patients. Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums caused by plaque and tartar build-up at the gum line. Symptoms include bleeding gums when brushing and flossing, chronic bad breath, and even tooth loss. Fortunately, gum disease is treatable. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of the gum disease. For mild to moderate gum disease, root planing and scaling is generally successful in restoring gum health. Root planing and scaling is a non-surgical treatment used to gently remove plaque and tartar at and below the gum line. More severe gum disease can be treated with a gingivectomy or flap procedures, both of which are surgical procedures.

Gum disease begins with mild symptoms like gum redness, soreness, and, most notably, bleeding gums during brushing and flossing. Though these symptoms may seem minor, they can lead to major oral health problems like bone loss, abscesses, chronic bad breath, and tooth loss. Fortunately, restorative dentistry treatments can help reverse the damage of gum disease.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria and plaque buildup.  The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and is typically characterized by bleeding gums during brushing and flossing, as well as tender, swollen, or red gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to the second stage of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis is noted by the spreading of the gum disease infection to the jawbone, chronic bad breath, pus coming from the gums, and even tooth loss.

Gum Disease Treatment

Gum disease is treatable regardless of the severity. Of course, mild gum disease is more easily treated than severe gum disease, but patients should not let that be a deterrent from seeking treatment. Mild gum disease can often be reversed with improved oral hygiene habits. Brushing at least twice a day for a full two minutes each, flossing at least once a day, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups can help eliminate early stages of gum disease. Those who suffer from moderate to severe gum disease must also practice proper oral hygiene habits, but may need one or more of the following treatments to fully restore oral health.

  • Root planing and scaling: Root planing and scaling is highly effective at reversing gum disease and closing the pockets that can develop between the gums and teeth. Root planing and scaling is a simple, deep cleaning treatment. During this procedure, the teeth are cleaned well below the gum line and down to the tooth roots.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are generally paired with other gum disease treatment to help reduce bacterial infection. In some cases, antibiotics may be enough when used with a proper oral hygiene routine.
  • Gingivectomy: For moderate to severe gum disease, a gingivectomy may be performed. The gingivectomy procedure is used to surgically remove diseased portions of the gum. Once these areas are removed, the healthy gum tissue is reshaped.
  • Flap procedure: In extreme cases of gum disease, the flap procedure may be necessary. The flap procedure is used when the gum disease has spread to the jawbone. The flap procedure is performed by cutting a small flap within the gum tissue to allow access to the tooth's root and affected jawbone. The tooth is then fully cleaned and the jawbone is repaired. Once completed, the flap is closed with sutures.

Tips to Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease is preventable with proper dental care and eating habits. Because gum disease is an infection caused by the bacteria that feeds off of dental plaque and sugary foods, it is important to keep the teeth clean and free of sugary food remnants. You can help reduce your risk of gum disease by following these tips:

  • Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day
  • See your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • Drink plenty of water to wash away food remnants and bacteria

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