Dental conditions associated with aging include dry mouth (xerostomia), radicular and coronal decay, and periodontitis; patients may be more sensitive to drugs used in dentistry, including local anesthetics and painkillers. Good dental care for older people can help prevent common problems, such as toothache, gum disease, and tooth loss. Healthy teeth also help older adults enjoy food and eat better. Learn why it's important to make dental health for older people a priority and how to help your older loved one improve their oral health.
In addition to routine dental care, older people may have times when they need to visit the dentist for other reasons. Medications and chronic diseases common to older adults, such as diabetes or heart disease, increase the risk of older people having dental problems. If you're a senior citizen with limited or fixed income and can't afford regular dental care, many dentists offer their services at reduced rates through assistance programs sponsored by the dental society. For people of legal age, the general rule of thumb when it comes to visiting the dentist's office is at least twice a year.
When in doubt, dentists should consult the patient's doctor to take the necessary special precautions. It is recommended that older people visit the dentist at least twice a year, unless their dentist has set a specific time for their visits. Lack of transportation, age-related memory loss, other cognitive problems, and physical disabilities can also cause older people to miss dental appointments and have poor dental health. If you are an older person who is going to have a checkup, your dentist should perform a thorough medical history and dental exam.
Plaque can quickly build up on the teeth of older people, especially if oral hygiene is neglected, and cause tooth decay and gum disease.