Dentistry in the Elderly: Planning For The Future – Part 1

An affectionate, senior couple on the beach

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Even though Medicare is great for Australian health care, it often falls behind when it comes to dental care. Often at Pennant Hills Dental Centre we see the elderly can face quite serious issues with their teeth, especially as they approach their seventies, eighties and nineties. To make matters worse, these issues can come to the fore at an alarmingly fast rate. As you age, it’s important to have a dental plan in place that is incorporated into your overall health. There are a lot of things to think about when trying to devise such a plan for the elderly.

Dry Mouth – Often the disregarded side effect of medications and the aging process

There are over 400 different medications that are known to cause Xerostomia, or ‘Dry Mouth’. Saliva functions to lubricate the oral tissues for comfort as well as protecting your teeth from decay and limiting infections in the mouth. It also prevents things like Oral Candidiasis (Oral Thrush) which is a very painful condition that affects comfort in the mouth and your ability to chew food without pain as the food presses on the irritated area. Saliva limits these things through its antimicrobial/antifungal properties. Combatting this problem of reduced quantity and quality of saliva can be done through limiting consumption of certain foods such as: caffeinated drinks, alcohol, acidic juices or sodas that cause ‘Dry Mouth’. Cessation of smoking and drinking plenty of water are also excellent ways in which you can optimise your salivary flow. Stimulating saliva flow can also be done through the use of SUGAR FREE gum and mints, but beware of those that contain sugar as this will have a negative effect on your oral condition. In addition to controlling diet, using saliva replacement products will also improve comfort and many contain the enzymes/constituents of saliva to provide a similar protective function as your own natural saliva.

This is just one of the factors that need to be taken into consideration when planning for optimal oral/general health. At Pennant Hills Dental Centre we customise our treatment plans for every patient by thoroughly examining the current condition and providing treatment in an individualised fashion. Not everyone needs the same treatment and not everyone can have every treatment due to a host of factors which we will talk about in our next blog! Make sure you contact Pennant Hills Dental Centre on (02) 9484 1132 or book online to reserve an appointment to discuss any of the above further.

Check out part 2 here.


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