Geriatric dentistry is specialized dental care for senior patients.There are many reasons why geriatric dentistry is important because older patients can face a number of unique conditions and diseases related to aging which can create unique challenges when seeking dental care. Let’s talk about a few of the challenges commonly affecting senior patients that may benefit from the specialized care of a geriatric dentist.
Common Conditions and Diseases
Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is a common affliction affecting the senior population because they are commonly prescribed medications with side effects that include reduced flow of saliva.Dry mouth is associated with an increased risk of cavities because salvia is part of your body’s natural defense system that remineralizes and protects your teeth.
Periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, also commonly affects older patients and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Gum recession can be a symptom of gum disease or hormonal changes related to aging and can expose the roots of the teeth, which are softer and more prone to decay than the upper areas of the tooth covered by enamel, leading to increased risk of root caries.
Increased Sensitivity to Medications
Geriatric patients may have increased sensitivity to medications and anesthetics including those used during dental procedures. One of the reasons why geriatric dentistry is important is to have the assurance of a specialized dentist and dental team that is up to date on the latest research and training in order to help protect the safety and health of older patients vulnerable to increased side effects and reactions.
Potential for Drug Interactions
Many older patients are already taking multiple prescription or over the counter medications for age related conditions, which can put them at a significantly increased risk of medication errors, drug interactions and serious reactions. Geriatric dentists will appreciate that you want to know you have specialists you can trust who understand the extra precautions needed to treat geriatric patients.
Physical and Cognitive Challenges
It’s also common for elderly patients to suffer from physical, sensory and cognitive challenges and a dentist specializing in geriatric needs will be familiar with the need to take additional care. Geriatric dentists understand how helpful it is to minimize noise and discomfort and provide compassionate comfort and distractions such as including caregivers in the process and keeping communication easily understandable and calming or offering favorite television or radio programs to entertain the patient during treatment.
Geriatric dentists also understand the patience needed for patients suffering from impairments such as physical disabilities or mental conditions like dementia and are considerate of the fact that it’s not always possible to complete everything necessary in one visit so can help by observing when it’s best to stop an exam or treatment and reschedule for a later time when the patient is better prepared or less stimulated.
Talk to a Geriatric Dentist
If you have questions about why geriatric dentistry is important, call a dental office specializing in geriatric dentistry and make an appointment for a consultation. When looking for dental care tailored to your needs, your safety, well-being and comfort should be a priority and you deserve the very best.
Call our Colorado Springs Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.