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Geriatric Dentistry

Geriatric dentistry or gerodontics is the delivery of dental care to older adults involving the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of problems associated with normal aging and age-related diseases as part of an interdisciplinary team with other health care professionals.

The mouth is referred to as a mirror of overall health, reinforcing that oral health is an integral part of general health. In the elderly population poor oral health has been considered a risk factor for general health problems. On the other hand, older adults are more susceptible to oral conditions or diseases due to an increase in chronic conditions and physical/mental disabilities. Thus, old people form a distinct group in terms of provision of care.


Geriatric Dental Care
The dental diseases that the elderly are particularly prone to are root caries, attrition, periodontal disease, missing teeth because of earlier neglect, edentulism, poor quality of alveolar ridges, ill-fitting dentures, mucosal lesions, oral ulceration, dry mouth (xerostomia), oral cancers, and rampant caries. Many of these are the sequelae of neglect in the early years of life, for example, consumption of a cariogenic diet, lack of awareness regarding preventive aspects, and habits like smoking and/or tobacco, pan, and betel nut chewing. All these problems may increase in magnitude because of the declining immunity in old age and because of coexisting medical problems. As a result of poor systemic health, the elderly patient often does not pay sufficient attention to oral health. In addition, medications like antihypertensives, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, etc., lead to xerostomia, and the absence of the protective influences of saliva in the oral cavity increases the predisposition to oral disease.The untreated oral cavity has its deleterious effects on comfort, aesthetics, speech, mastication and, consequently, on quality of life in old age.

Geriatric dentistry or gerodontics is the delivery of dental care to older adults involving the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of problems associated with normal aging and age-related diseases as part of an interdisciplinary team with other health care professionals. With proper care and regular dental visits, there is no reason a senior cannot keep his or her teeth for a lifetime.

FAQs

How should I care for my teeth?

Meticulous tooth brushing using a soft-bristle toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Daily flossing between teeth removes plaque, a soft, sticky, colorless bacterial film which forms on teeth continuously and can lead to cavities and gum disease if not removed. Regular dental visits are also important to maintain good oral health. Remember to bring a list of current medications to your dental visit, including over the counter medications.

What dental problems should I be concerned about?

Periodontal (gum) disease affects most adults to varying extents. This starts as gingivitis, caused by the bacteria present in plaque. Gums may be red, swollen and bleed with brushing. If left untreated, this can progress to receding gums and periodontal pocketing (gaps between the teeth and gums), which weaken the teeth and bone and could eventually result in tooth loss.

Why is my mouth dry?

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs when the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva. Saliva is nature’s way of helping us clean our teeth. The lack of normal salivary flow can lead to an increase in cavities, gingivitis and other mouth infections. It can also cause difficulty tasting, chewing, speaking and swallowing.

What are the causes of dry mouth?

Dry mouth may be caused by medications, stress, irradiation, autoimmune disease or neurological factors. Most cases of dry mouth are side effects of many over the counter and prescription drugs. Antihistamines, as well as drugs used for treating high blood pressure, depression and other conditions can also cause dry mouth.

What can be done to treat dry mouth?

Consult your physician and KIMS member dentist about medication you are taking. You may be able to adjust your dosage or change to another medication. There are prescription drugs that may improve salivary gland function. Salivary substitutes may be recommended. In addition, drink plenty of water and avoid tobacco and caffeinated, citrus and alcoholic beverages. Try to avoid salty and dry foods. Chewing sugarless gum may help. Make sure you brush, floss and see your PDA member dentist regularly.

What should I do if I have arthritis and find it difficult to clean my teeth?

Consult your KIMS member dentist who might recommend an electric toothbrush or other oral hygiene aids.

How do I care for my dentures? Should I see a dentist if I am wearing dentures?

Dentures should be cleaned after meals and before going to bed at night. They should be removed from the mouth for at least four hours a day or as otherwise directed by your dentist. If you notice changes in your gums, such as red or white sores or raised bumps, report them to your KIMS member dentist immediately. It is important for your dentist to check whether you have denture sores or if they have become ill fitting. See you KIMS member dentist for needed maintenance or replacement.

TMJ disorders can be caused by multiple factors loss of posterior teeth being one of them. So to prevent the joint from being affected replacement of the missing teeth is imperative. TMJ can also be affected by severely attritedteeth therefore complete rehabilitation of the mouth may be necessary as per the condition of the oral cavity. KIMS Dental Care experts adviced that an alternative mode of this treatment to use a night guard.

Attrition is the loss of teeth structure by mechanical forces from opposing teeth. Attrition initially affects the enamel and, if unchecked, may proceed to the underlying dentin. Once past the enamel, attrition quickly destroys the softer dentin. Erosion is a very important contributing factor to the loss of tooth substance by attrition.

The most common cause of attrition is bruxism. Functional habits are those such as chewing and swallowing, which usually puts very little force on opposing teeth. Parafunctional habits, such as clenching and clicking the teeth together nervously, place greater amounts of forces on opposing teeth and begin to wear the teeth. As expected, wear usually begins on the incisal or occlusal surfaces.

When the enamel of a tooth is worn away, the tooth often becomes sensitive and is more susceptible to decay. Advanced cases often require crowns to save the teeth. KIMS Dental Care deals with many advanced cases which required crowns to save teeth.

KIMS Dental Care Promoted new Services Center for Holistic Dentistry says that Health and wellness instead of the treatment of diseases.

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