Dentistry and the Older Adult

Grandfather Reading to ChildWith people living longer, we, as dentists, recognize that the dental profession must shoulder a new responsibility for enduring dental care.

We all hope we’ll live to a ripe old age. At the same time, we want to enjoy the rest of our years and live a quality life. As people age, they become more prone to certain chronic conditions. Old adults may encounter root decay, erosion of the root surfaces, fracturing of fillings and brittle teeth, or gum infection. People with dentures or partials may find that their bony ridges will continue to recede.

What can be done?

  • Root decay and gum disease—Continue to use fluoride toothpaste with tartar and plaque control. There are some newer toothpastes and rinses that are very effective in controlling gum inflammation, plaque, and decay, especially using these agents in a water-irrigating device.
  • Xerostomia, or “dry mouth”—Often people suffer dry mouth as a side effect of medication. Forms of artificial saliva are available; or your physician can recommend alternate medication.
  • Root erosion—We can use bonded fillings to cover and protect these areas.
  • Abrasion or wearing away the chewing surfaces of the teeth—Bite correction or a night guard appliances are available. In some cases, however, the teeth may have to be crowned.
  • Fracturing brittle teeth—Change silver fillings to bonded fillings, or use crowns to protect damaged teeth.
  • Uncomfortable dentures—The bony ridges in your mouth that support the denture recede over time. Refit, realign, or replace partials and dentures to get the best possible fit. Or, implants can act as a support to eliminate movements that may cause further damage/discomfort.

Now may be the best time to change old fillings, refit dentures, or just have that check-up. So don’t wait any longer, as your dentist, our responsibility is to look after you now and in the future!

About R. Shawn Kelly, DDS

Dr. Kelly has been in private practice in the Sacramento area since 1981. Dr. Kelly received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from The University of Arizona and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Dr. Kelly is competent in all aspects of general dentistry including sedation for fearful patients and reconstructive dentistry. By drawing upon his many years of experience in the profession, Dr. Kelly is able to give his patients a thorough assessment of their needs and thoughtful explanation of his findings. He and his staff strive to communicate in easily understandable terms all the while trying to help every patient feel comfortable with their treatment decisions.

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