Senior Citizen Concerns
Oh yes, a brief dialogue regarding those "golden years" is appropriate. Several of the factors affecting the senior population's dental health have been indirectly referred to already. Those factors which impact dental health include an increase in the medications we take, an increased incidence of dry mouth and diabetes, and a general weakening of the immune system. As we age, teeth as well as bones become more brittle and susceptible to fracture. Because of this factor, treatment choices tend to move in one of two directions; (1) utilize crowns, bridges or implants to strengthen or replace teeth, or (2) remove weakened teeth and utilize removable bridgework. A final note in senior care dental health identifies a resurgence of root type cavities in the sixth, seventh, and eighth decade. Several factors are at work in this regard: (1) increased incidence of dry mouth, (2) increased level of dietary sugars are ingested, patients begin to suck on hard candy, cough drops, or just eat more sweets after they retire, the immune system is depressed and resistance to decay is minimal, and (3) gums have receded below the enamel line and an increased amount of root surface is exposed which is less resistant than enamel. Seniors must be vigilant and committed to excellent nutrition, prevention, and professional supervision.