General Dentistry Considerations for Your Elderly Family Members

General Dentistry Services Visalia, CA

General dentistry covers dental care for patients of all age groups, from the young to the elderly. Each age group has its own set of needs. General dentists monitor dental developmental milestones in young children. Those who are pregnant need dental care that monitors the effects of hormonal changes on oral health.

In the same vein, the elderly have unique circumstances that dentists must consider when they provide dental care. This article goes over these considerations after a brief explainer on geriatric dental care.

How general dentistry works for the elderly

General dentistry offers first-line (primary) dental care to patients of all ages, including the elderly. For patients of advanced age, primary care includes the usual services that most patients need from their dentist, like:

  • Dental restorations
  • Therapies like root canal treatment
  • Gum care
  • Periodic checkups

Geriatric dentistry takes it a step further in two ways. First, some aspects of dental care are almost always for older patients. A good example is the fitting and repair of dentures. 

Second, procedures like dental restorations and gum care require extra layers of care in older patients. Here are those considerations.

1. The physiology of aging and its effect on dental health

Many people are lucky enough to enjoy good health in their old age. Even in this healthy contingent of the elderly, changes in the body extend to dental health.

As an example, gum tissues tend to recede with age. This means that a general dentist who caters to older patients will take extra care to prevent and check for dental caries at the base of the teeth. They will recommend preventative measures to strengthen the enamel and keep bacterial attacks on the teeth at bay.

A dentist may choose to use preventative measures, like fluoride rinses, to prevent bacterial attacks on the teeth. The dentist will also emphasize gum care during routine dental visits.

2. Age-related conditions and dental health

Arthritis and a change in metabolism are two common conditions that come with old age. Such conditions affect oral health in different ways.

A patient who has a hard time closing their fingers around their toothbrush or dental floss may struggle with their dental hygiene. Their dentist may schedule teeth cleanings at shorter intervals, as a preventative measure. The dentist may also prescribe an electric toothbrush to help.

A patient with a heart condition may have an adverse response to components of anesthetics, like epinephrine. If this patient needs a dental procedure, their dentist will make suitable adjustments to the anesthetic that they use.

3. Medication and dental health

With age-related illnesses often comes medication. This affects how a dentist treats older patients. There are certain types of medication that interact with anesthetics. The dentist must also consider their patient’s medication before they prescribe medicine that deals with an oral health issue.

Consultation with primary care physicians is important. Dentists who treat older patients often find themselves coordinating with their patient’s doctor. Taking this extra step ensures the overall wellbeing of their patient.

Another aspect of medication and dental health is dealing with side effects that affect oral health. Certain types of medication can cause dry mouth and thrush in older patients. A dentist will treat these kinds of oral health problems by consulting with their patient’s doctor and coming up with alternatives or ways to mitigate the side effects.

4. Cognitive decline and dental healthcare

Patients who suffer from conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s can lose the ability to take care of themselves. Such patients can also be difficult to treat because of the behavioral changes that come with cognitive decline.

General dentists who treat older patients have training that allows them to put their patients at ease. The dentist will also guide the caregivers of such patients on how to ensure an oral hygiene routine that keeps the patient’s mouth healthy.

Let good oral health add even more shine to those golden years

Good dental and oral health add to a patient’s quality of life, no matter their age. Our dentist knows that healthy teeth and gums can make old age more meaningful and stress-free. Get in touch with us to find out how our general dentistry services can cater to your needs or the needs of your loved one.

Request an appointment here: or call Visalia Care Dental at (559) 975-1213 for an appointment in our Visalia office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: General Dentistry Services in Visalia, CA.

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