Frequently Asked Questions About Senior Dental Care
7. Can dentists treat the elderly with moderate dementia?
The ideal time to take care of all necessary dental treatments is soon after the person has been diagnosed with dementia. This way, only easier maintenance treatments will be all that is needed as the person ages. However, the elderly with moderate levels of dementia can be treated and can receive anesthesia. Setting a dental appointment early in the day, when the person with dementia is most alert, may be best. Also, the caregiver needs to communicate to the person with dementia that he or she is going to the dentist and state the reason for the visit.
8. If an older person has few or no dental problems or even no teeth, does he or she need to see the dentist?
Even if you do not have teeth or only have had a few dental problems, it is wise -- especially as you age -- to visit your dentist at least once a year for a comprehensive oral exam. At this visit your dentist can look for signs of oral cancer as well as for any other oral health or medical problems in the mouth, head, and neck areas.
9. My dentures don't feel as comfortable as they once did. What should I do?
Your gums and the bone supporting them changes shape as you age, so your dentures may begin to feel loose.
First, never try to change the shape of your dentures yourself in the hopes of making them fit better -- you could end up causing irreparable damage to the dentures.
Because dentures are made to fit perfectly, if you do feel a looseness, chances are your dentures will need to be adjusted to make them fit properly again as your mouth shape changes. See your dentist as soon as possible. In an emergency, use a denture adhesive to keep your dentures stable until your appointment.
10. Why do I find it difficult to chew and swallow certain foods?
You may be experiencing these difficulties simply because you have tooth decay, ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth, or another treatable condition. Maintaining proper nutrition is important not only for your oral health but for your overall health, too. Follow this advice:
- Eat a variety of foods from the five food groups (milk and dairy, breads and cereals, meats and dried beans, fruits, and vegetables).
- Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, fruits and vegetables.
- Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
- Choose a diet moderate in sugars.
- Choose a diet moderate in salt.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation.
- You may need a multivitamin or mineral supplement. Check with your doctor.
11. Can medications affect my dental treatment?
Yes, medications can impact your dental health. In fact, each time you visit your dentist, be sure to give him or her complete, up-to-date information about any recent hospitalizations or surgery, recent illnesses and/or any changes in your health since your last visit, and any changes in any medications you may be taking.
Regarding medications, be sure to write down and bring with you a list of the names of current drugs you are taking, their dosages, and frequency of use. Include any over-the-counter products you may be using, as well as any herbal products and supplements. All of these issues will need to be considered by your dentist in order to devise a safe and effective treatment plan for you.