Dental Care for Seniors
What Seniors Can Expect During a Dental Exam
If you're a senior headed for a check up, your dentist should conduct a thorough history and dental exam. Questions asked during a dental history should include:
- The approximate date of your last dental visit and reason for the visit
- If you have noticed any recent changes in your mouth
- If you have noticed any loose or sensitive teeth
- If you have noticed any difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
- If you have any pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
- If you have noticed any lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth
During an oral exam, your dentist will check the following: your face and neck (for skin discoloration, moles, sores); your bite (for any problems in how the teeth come together while opening and closing your mouth); your jaw (for signs of clicking and popping in the temporomandibular joint); your lymph nodes and salivary glands (for any sign of swelling or lumps); your inner cheeks (for infections, ulcers, traumatic injuries); your tongue and other interior surfaces -- floor of the mouth, soft and hard palate, gum tissue (for signs of infection or oral cancer); and your teeth (for decay, condition of fillings, and cracks).
If you wear dentures or other appliances, your dentist will ask a few questions about when you wear your dentures and when you take them out (if removable). He or she will also look for any irritation or problems in the areas in the mouth that the appliance touches, and examine the denture or appliance itself (looking for any worn or broken areas).
Financial Aid for Seniors' Dental Care
If you are a senior on a limited or fixed income and can't afford regular dental care, many dentists offer their services at reduced fees through dental society-sponsored assistance programs. Since aid varies from one community to another, call your local dental society for information about where you can find the nearest assistance programs and low-cost care locations (such as public health clinics and dental school clinics). Also, check your local phone book, the internet, or your local dental society.