Geriatric Dentistry in Sun City, Arizona
Oral health is very important as we age
At Burns Dentistry in Sun City and Sun City West, we are pleased to offer geriatric dentistry, or dentistry for seniors, simply because oral health can be compromised or challenged as we age. We recommend that our senior patients maintain their dental hygiene habits and visit us for regular checkups.
Did you know the risk of cavities increases as we age?
Tooth decay is not just a problem for children and young adults – it can happen for your entire life. In fact, as we get older, we enter the second round of cavity prone years. Dental plaque or bacteria build-up is a problem for your natural and artificial teeth (such as dentures or dental implants). Plaque produces acids that, over time, eat away at the tooth’s hard outer surface and create a cavity. Even teeth that already have fillings are at risk. Plaque can build up underneath a chipped filling and cause new decay. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to geriatric dentistry in Sun City and Sun City West, to help prevent such build-ups and keep you with a healthy, happy mouth.
Why does dry mouth contribute to tooth decay?
One of the reasons the risk of tooth decay increases with age is a condition called dry mouth. This is a common side effect of many prescription medications taken more commonly later in life. Dry mouth is caused by not having enough saliva in your mouth. Without enough saliva, chewing, eating, swallowing, and even talking can be difficult. Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay because saliva helps keep harmful germs that cause tooth decay and other oral infections in check. Saliva also contains minerals (calcium and phosphate) that can help reverse early decay. And, if you have dentures, dry mouth can make them uncomfortable and they may not fit as well. Without enough saliva, dentures can also rub against the gums and cause sore spots. In addressing geriatric dentistry in Sun City and Sun City West, we have solutions to issues connected to dry mouth.
Is there a connection between oral health and heart health?
Research continues to uncover connections that indicate why maintaining good oral health is also good for heart health.
These connections are especially important to older adults who have a higher risk of heart disease. Several studies have shown that periodontal disease can increase the risk for heart disease. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. The link between these diseases is related to inflammation, or swelling of gums or other tissues, caused by bacteria in the mouth leading to gingivitis, and periodontitis (gum disease) if left untreated.
Studies show that the bacteria found in periodontal disease, including Streptococcus sanguis, also play a role in strokes, and can spread throughout the body, including the heart.
Many older adults have periodontal disease caused by the bacteria in plaque, which irritate the gums, making them swollen. If left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces called pockets where food particles and more plaque may collect. Advanced periodontal disease can eventually destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss.
How do certain medical conditions affect oral health?
We understand some patients may have developed comorbid conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, mellitus) or physiologic changes that are identified with aging. Each condition is carefully considered during your checkups or other dental visits, and our team will be sure to communicate any changes in your treatment plan with you. Our compassionate and understanding team will provide complementary and friendly care to you. In addition, we ask that our more mature patients please be aware of the side effects associated with any medication use. Medications can heavily influence what we determine to be the safest and most suitable dental care for your situation. We encourage you to talk to us about any concerns you may have regarding your dentition and age. Sun City geriatric dentistry is well within our scope at Burns Dentistry. Find out how we can provide solutions for you.