Dental Concerns for Seniors

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 7.34.22 PMWhile good oral health is important for everyone, as we grow older and face age-related health issues, it’s not uncommon to experience increased dental challenges, as well. If you’re over 65 or have a senior family member, there are things you should watch for to keep your teeth healthy (which helps keep your body healthy, too!).

Cavities: Cavities aren’t just for children; it’s common at any age. However, according to a study by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92% of men and women aged 65 and older have cavities in their teeth. This is often a result of a lack of dental care, meaning cavities go undetected and untreated. It’s important for seniors, just as it is for everyone else, to have regular appointments with Dr. Chiarello and Dr. Shapiro. Please schedule an appointment today if we haven’t seen you in the past 6+ months!

Eating difficulties can be caused by cavities, ill-fitting dentures or partials, gum disease, infection (gingivitis) and/or missing teeth. These problems often cause older patients to adjust the quality, consistency and quantity of the foods that they eat, leading to general health problems.

Dry Mouth: The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 20% of those over the age of 65 suffer from dry mouth. This is most often due to medications, such as antihistamines, blood pressure medications, pain killers, diuretics and others that have dry mouth as a side effect. Obviously, the best way to counter dry mouth problems is by increasing fluids, while limiting intake of alcohol and caffeine, which contribute to dry mouth. Check with us at our Manhattan dentist office during your next appointment if dry mouth is a problem.

Gum Disease: Gum disease is an infection in the gums and surrounding tissues and can cause bleeding and sore gums. Eventually, tooth loss can occur. Tartar is an indication of gum disease and is one of the reasons that we always descale teeth when you come for your dental visits, as you cannot remove tartar when brushing your teeth. There are two kinds of gum disease: gingivitis, which creates gums that are red, swollen and bleed easily; and periodontitis, which causes gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving spaces in the gums that easily become infected and can lead to tooth loss. If you, or someone you know, has problems with manual dexterity due to arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, ask us about toothbrushes that have modified handles to make it easier for them to brush.

Growing older doesn’t have to mean tooth loss or dental pain. Enjoy your golden years by taking good care of your teeth!

To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists