As the population continues to age, dental professionals are faced with unique challenges when caring for older patients. Aging comes with a plethora of physical changes and medical conditions that can complicate oral health, making it critical to address age-specific challenges. This article will provide insight into the common oral health challenges that seniors face and how dental professionals can effectively address them.
Physical and Health Comorbidities
As individuals age, it’s not unusual for them to face certain health conditions like hypertension and diabetes. This can lead to a weakened immune system, making seniors more susceptible to oral diseases. Dental professionals take note of these concerns when treating older adults. They understand that seniors may not be able to handle invasive procedures like dental extractions or root canals due to their health situation.
The average senior adult is most likely using at least one prescription medication in addition to several over-the-counter drugs. Because of this, dentists ask patients to report all medication use so that they can ensure they safely administer drugs like local anesthetics and analgesics. Some medications can cause dry mouth and other oral health conditions that your dentist will need to address.
Physical Sensory and Cognitive Impairment
Like every other medical condition, aging can bring about physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments that can make oral healthcare challenging. Physical impairments, such as arthritis, can often make handling a toothbrush, floss, or dentures difficult. Some seniors may also experience sensory impairments like blindness or hearing loss, which hampers communication. Cognitive impairments such as dementia also make it critical for caregivers or family members to be present to ensure their dental care is proper and effective.
Dental Conditions that Include Dry Mouth
Dry mouth or xerostomia is typical among aging adults and can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. Dental professionals take dry mouth seriously and can help them ascertain if medications cause dry mouth and how to take appropriate action.
Coronal Caries and Periodontitis
Older adults with coronal caries and periodontitis are more likely to have complex dental needs and limited access to care. This is due to the comorbid health condition, physical impairments, and fear of dental procedures. Pathologies like periodontitis need to be addressed by dental professionals to reduce the risk of tooth loss, which can lead to other serious health problems.
The Team at Park 56 Dental is Equipped for All Your Dental Needs—Whatever Your Age!
At Park 56 Dental, we take a personalized approach when caring for older adults. We understand that effective communication, routine dental exams, and preventive oral care measures are vital to maintaining oral health. Additionally, we create treatment plans that factor in comorbid health conditions, medication use, physical impairments, and cognitive and sensory impairments to achieve optimal healthcare outcomes for seniors. By understanding and addressing age-specific oral health challenges, our team can positively impact the quality of life of our aging patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!
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