Family & Cosmetic Care in a Comfortable, Relaxed Environment.

Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

As we age, we need to monitor our bodies far differently than when we were younger. This includes our dental hygiene. Prescription medications can have a big effect on dental health. They can lead to dry mouth which can lead to increased tooth decay. Below you will find some great dental hygiene tips to navigate through the senior years.

Common Dental Issues For Seniors

Certain dental health problems are more common in seniors, they include the following:

1) Tooth Decay. Cavities are caused by plaque bacteria which breakdown the enamel and cause holes in the teeth. Soft diet, dry mouth, limited dexterity, a large number of crowns and fillings to clean around, and high sugars or acids in your diet will increase your chances of decay.

2) Periodontal Disease. Seniors are at an increased risk of periodontal disease. This occurs when plaque builds up beneath your gum line causing inflammation of the tissues and eventually bone loss if allowed to progress. Certain medications cause the gums to swell and bleed and make it more difficult to remove plaque. This may cause gum recession and periodontal disease.

3) Root Cavities. The roots of the teeth can also decay. Once gums recede, the unprotected root surface is very easy for the plaque bacteria to attack. With no enamel to protect it, the cavity can progress rapidly to the nerve of the tooth.

4) Tooth Sensitivity. As we get older, our gums may recede, exposing root surfaces. The roots have nerve endings close to the surface which can become increasingly sensitive to hot, cold, brushing, and sweets. If you experience sensitivity, try a sensitivity toothpaste (like Colgate Sensitive Pro-Health) . If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

5) Dry mouth or Xerostomia. Dry mouth is a common condition in the senior population and one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders (like radiation therapy for cancer). If this condition is left untreated, it can cause damage to your teeth. Dry mouth occurs when there is reduced salivary flow. Plaque tends to build up when the mouth is dry, putting you at an increased risk for cavities. Your dentist can recommend multiple methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as treatments or medications to help prevent the development of cavities. Two products I recommend are Biotene and Listerine Zero.

6) Denture Issues. Many older people wear dentures. If they are not properly cared for, they can cause dental health problems, especially fungal infections such as yeast. A sign of a yeast infection is bright red irritated tissue, itchiness, burning, or a white creamy build up on oral tissues or denture. Just because you have dentures does not mean you do not need a dental examination. You should have an annual check of your denture fit, oral tissues, and oral cancer screening. As well as a jaw x-ray every five years to detect growth or changes in the bone.

Senior Dental Hygiene Tips

-Maintain Regular Brushing. The recommended time to brush is at least 2 minutes. For many of us, we never reach the 2 minute mark at any of our tooth brushing sessions. If you feel like you are having trouble keeping to 2 minute deadline think about the use of a timer or an electric toothbrush that shuts off after 2 minutes of use.

-Use A Plaque Disclosing Solution. This solution allows the patient to see visually if they left any plaque behind and work on areas they are missing. It is a great tool and easy to visualize the areas you need improvement on.

-Maintain Regular Dental Visits. This goes for the old and the young. Maintaining regular dental visits can catch small problems before they become bigger issues. This will save you time and money and possibly pain down the road.

-Add A Mouthwash Rinse To Your Dental Hygiene Protocol. It is a good idea to use an oral rinse that does not contain alcohol. As we get older, our teeth can become sensitive, alcohol rinses can be uncomfortable to use for those with sensitive teeth.

-Floss Daily. Flossing your teeth can help prevent plaque from building up between teeth. Flossing should be done at least once a day. We also recommend the use of floss mate. A variety of companies (Butler GUM floss mate or REACH access flosser), make these products and are easily found at the local drug store. These products work well in patients with minimal or reduced dexterity.

-Quite Smoking.  In addition to increasing your risk of many systemic diseases, smoking can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. There are a variety of methods available to quit to make it as painless a possible.

Conclusion

There are many health challenges to deal with as we age, but maintaining good oral hygiene and monitoring to your dental health can keep your smile sparkling for many years to come.

As the new year begins many of us are trying to choose healthier options. This includes attempting to make smarter choices in our choice of drink. A choice for many is to forego sugary sodas and choose carbonated water. The thought is we will choose a lower calorie drink that is also less harmful to our oral health. But is sparkling water safer for our teeth and gums?

What Is Sparkling Water?

Sparkling water is made by dissolving carbon dioxide in water, creating carbonic acid. This  chemical process just adds bubbles. It does not add sugar, calories, or even caffeine. Tonic water, club soda, and mineral water are all types of readily available carbonated water, but these have added sodium, vitamins, or sweeteners, so it’s important to read the label.

Is Sparkling Water Harmful To Our Teeth?

Yes, sparkling water can harm your teeth. While sparkling water is only slightly more acidic than regular tap water it has the power to do damage to our teeth’s enamel through a process called tooth erosion (wearing away of the outer layer of our teeth due to acids). Some of the causes of tooth enamel erosion include:

-Consuming excessive amounts of sodas (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)

-Fruit drinks (some acids in fruit drinks are more erosive than battery acid)

-Dry mouth or low salivary flow (xerostomia)

-Diet (high in sugar and starches)

-Acid reflux disease (also called GERD)

-Gastrointestinal problems

-Medications (for example aspirin and antihistamines)

-Genetics

-Environmental factors (friction, wear and tear, and stress)

Research has shown that sparkling water has a pH (measure of aciditiy) of approximately 3 (with 5 being neutral). The researchers used extracted teeth and placed them in glasses filled with various types of sparkling waters. What they found was quite surprising. Sparkling water does in fact have the acidity to erode tooth enamel. In fact, the researchers found that the sparkling water compared to orange juice in terms of its erosive effect.

Sparkling Water Conclusion

While the research showed that the sparkling waters can erode tooth enamel, it is important to note that if used in moderation it is a perfectly healthy alternative to sodas and energy drinks. Remember to practice good oral hygiene after using these drinks and you should have little to worry about in terms of your dental health.

Thyroid disease makes it difficult for the body to produce and regulate the normal amount of important hormones. Thyroid disease is quite difficult to diagnose and it can have a ripple effect throughout the body throwing systems out of balance. Approximately 30 million Americans have thyroid disease ( more than half of them undiagnosed). Subtle changes in thyroid function can have a significant impact on our health. Women’s risk of developing thyroid problems is seven times that of men. A family history of thyroid problems and increasing age affect the chances of a woman developing thyroid problems. A woman has almost a one-in-five chance of facing some type of thyroid disease in her lifetime. The question we ask…Does thyroid disease also affect dental health? Read below to find out….

Possible Dental Health Symptoms Of Thyroid Disease

-Increased risk of periodontal disease. Thyroid conditions may inhibit the body’s ability to heal wounds. This can be quite dangerous for dental health as our gum tissues are constantly in a state of rebuilding and repair. If the gum tissue is in a weakened state it becomes more prone to infection than healthy gum tissues. With an increased risk of periodontal disease also comes an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). It is believed that oral bacteria passes into the bloodstream which can then attach to fatty plaques leading to clot formations. It has been shown in research that stroke victims are more likely to have an oral infection present vs. those who have not suffered from a stroke.

-Enlarged Tongue. This is also called Macroglossia. This can be a common symptom of thyroid disease sufferers. The swollen or enlarged tongue can make it difficult to perform simple activities like talking, eating, and swallowing. Sleep patterns can also be disrupted as those suffering from macroglossia may also find it difficult to fall asleep as the tongue can block the airway and wake the person with a gasp for air. Sleep deprivation can lead to its own disorders including mental fatigue and early development of Alzheimer’s disease.

-Dry Mouth (Xerostomia). Saliva acts as a buffer for our teeth and gums. The saliva constantly washes and coats our mouth maintaining a delicate balance. If salivary flow is reduced it can lead to increased tooth decay. Saliva also adds nutrients to our teeth keeping them strong to defend against attack by oral bacteria.

-Burning Mouth Syndrome. This is a condition that causes a burning pain in the mouth and tongue.

-Change In Taste Sensation. This is also referred to as Dysgeusia. Thyroid disease may cause your sense of taste to become distorted or just change over time. This may make healthy eating difficult which  leads to a decreased quality of health.

-Accelerated Dental Eruption. This pertains to children with thyroid disease. It is possible for teeth to erupt earlier and faster than normal creating an issue in proper development for those children.

Thyroid Disease Conclusion

Thyroid disease must be accurately diagnosed with blood work, usually by an endocrinologist.  The endocrinologist will monitor the disease, and update changes to thyroid medications to help them to maintain patient’s oral health. Due to the manifestation of oral signs, the dentist may be the first to suspect a serious thyroid disease disorder and play a key role in early diagnosis. If you notice any of these changes speak to your dentist and medical doctor.  Be proactive in your dental and overall health care.

As we age many aspects of our body change. Some we can control, or slow down, but others we cannot. Good health is the key to staying young and fit. Oral health is directly linked to your overall health. There are scientific studies which link systemic disease to oral health.  So, the first step towards a healthy, youthful, body is a healthy smile.

Dental Health Tips

-Regular Visits To The Dentist. Routine visits are important not only for the health of your teeth but they are also an opportunity to check for signs of other diseases such as oral cancer. Changes can be monitored and treated quickly when regularly scheduled visits are maintained.

-Maintain Good Oral Hygiene At Home. A daily routine should include brushing, flossing, and rinsing or waterpicking. Brushing should be done a minimum of 2 times per day for at least 2 minutes each time. Flossing should be done at least once per day. Rinsing with an antibacterial rinse, or irrigating the oral tissues and periodontal pockets with a waterpick, will complete the regimen.

-Cosmetic Dentistry.  As we age, our teeth change from wear and tear. They may become darker over time, may be worn down or cracked in different areas, and may even shift. Grinding, bad habits like smoking, aggressive brushing, clenching, etc. cause the teeth to become stained, and worn. Cosmetic dentistry can help give you back a more youthful, healthy appearance. Procedures may include dental bonding, porcelain veneers, porcelain crowns, and teeth whitening. A whiter brighter smile is within reach.

-Dry mouth. As we age, oral dryness(xerostomia) becomes more frequent.  Dry mouth can cause bad breath, cavities, increase gum disease, and may also be a symptom of  systemic disease or medication use. You may want to try to drink more water, or perhaps oil pulling. The water or oil will act as a saliva replacement keeping tissues and teeth moist. Another good tip is to chew xylitol gum. Xylitol has been shown to not only stimulate salivary flow but also protect our teeth against tooth decay.

-Medications. Many medications have side effects. Some can make your gums overgrow, cause dry mouth, unstable bone, tooth staining, cavities, or “fake toothaches”. Be sure to know what oral side effects your medications may cause. Always let your dentist know about all of your medications.

-Well Balanced Diet. Nutrition is important for our body as well as our mouths. Vitamin C, Phosphorous, and Calcium are important building blocks for healthy teeth and gums. Most healthy foods are crunchy and need to be chewed properly for proper breakdown and digestion. Healthy teeth will allow you to have the ability to chew the raw fruits , nuts and veggies you need in a healthy diet.

-Orthodontics.  As we age, our teeth can shift causing crowding or spacing in different areas of the mouth. Orthodontics can give you back that youthful smile or give you the  smile you’ve always wanted. Adult orthodontics are very successful when done in conjunction with monitoring by a periodontist, and more frequent cleanings at the dentist office.

-Dental Implants. Missing teeth can make you feel uncomfortable with smiling, socially awkward, or may make you look older than you are. Replacing lost teeth can be done with very natural results. Implants are a great way to achieve cosmetics, strength, and durability.  Dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth. The best part is, once restored, the dental implants should last a lifetime.

Dental Health Conclusion

A healthy smile needs constant care but the results are well worth it. A healthy, bright smile will portray youth, confidence, and vitality. It will also help us to keep as healthy as possible. The best way to start down the right path is to visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.