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As we get go down the inevitable path of aging, health problems arise that we never expected. This includes oral health changes that can be kept at bay with proper care. Below you will find a list of some of the common dental health issues seniors face.

Common Dental Health Issues For Seniors

Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). This occurs when salivary flow is reduced. This can occur from many factors such as medications, Sjogren’s syndrome, or even from radiation therapy to the head and neck area. Saliva is the body’s natural defense against the bacteria and food debris that can build up in our mouths. Without proper flow, tooth decay and periodontal disease has an increased chance of developing creating problems for your oral health.

Darker Smile. This is a  cumulative effect of thinning enamel (exposing more of the underneath layer, the dentin) and a lifetime of eating and drinking stain causing food and drink. For many a simple teeth whitening can bring back the bright, white shine for others it may require more extensive cosmetic dentistry.

Decay Along The Roots Of Teeth. As we age and are not as diligent over time with our dental hygiene, the gum tissue surrounding our teeth can recede as we lose bone. This recession will expose portions of the tooth known as the root. These areas are much less protected and more vulnerable to developing tooth decay. Simce this area is thinner, this tooth decay can progress rapidly leading to tooth sensitivity and possibly the need for root canal therapy.

Changes In Taste. We have all heard the sayings how our tastes change as we get older. We make different choices in our nutrition as we get older. Other items that can contribute changes to our taste sensation include disease, medications, and even dentures.

Periodontal Disease. This is not just a disease for young or old. It affects both equally but tends to rear itself more in the older population. This is due to usually slow progression of the disease. It is important to note keeping periodontal disease at bay will stave off tooth loss as we age. A full smile is a youthful looking one.

Tooth Loss. This can occur for many reasons including periodontal disease, trauma, or untreated tooth decay. It is important to replace lost teeth whenever possible as it prevents your bite from shifting creating issues with your Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ).

Temperomandibular Joint Disorder. This is generally a slow developing disorder. Hence, it seems to be more likely in an older person than a younger one. The bones and the disc in this joint will break down over time from bad habits like teeth grinding or even chewing hard candy over a long period of time.

Denture Induced Stomatitis. This is simply an inflammation of the tissues beneath a denture. This is caused by dentures that do not fit properly, poor oral hygiene, or can even be caused by a fungus (Candida Albicans, also known as thrush).

What Can Be Done To Combat These Issues For Seniors?

The main thing is to maintain dental hygiene throughout life. This includes brushing at least 2x per day, flossing at least 1x per day, and using an antibacterial rinse. Dental hygiene tends to become more difficult for many as they age due to arthritis. This makes hands dexterity and strength an issue. Luckily, there are many wonderful products on the market to help with these situations. And it is also important to keep up with your scheduled dental visits for examinations (including oral cancer screenings) and professional cleanings. Doing the right things can be hard sometimes but doing them will pay off over the long run leading to a happy, healthy more youthful looking smile as we age.



For many people, eating disorders are part of every day life. These  abnormal eating habits may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and psychological health. The resulting effects of the dietary issues involved directly and indirectly relate to oral health problems.

Common Types Of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa (commonly called,  “anorexia”) –  This eating disorder is characterized by a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, an obsessive fear of weight gain, and an unrealistic perception of current body weight. Anorexia can cause menstruation to stop, and often leads to bone loss, loss of skin integrity. It is a big stressor on the heart, there is an increase in the risk of heart attacks and related heart problems. This disorder also presents with an increased risk of death. Peer pressures play a role in an individuals’ obsession with their outer appearances. Recent research suggests it is not only about a person’s outward perception but genetics may play a role in the disease process.

Bulimia Nervosa (commonly called, “bulimia”) – This eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating followed by purging. The purging can include self induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives/diuretics, or excessive exercise. Fasting may also be used as a method of purging (self inflicted vomiting) following a binge.

Compulsive over-eating– This eating disorder is characterized by eating large quantities of food even when not feeling hunger. The food is generally consumed quickly and often with little to no regard for proper nutrition.

Dental Issues That Arise From An Eating Disorder

Tooth Enamel Erosion and Tooth Decay – It is quite common to see an increased incidence of tooth decay in all forms of eating disorder. It is also not unusual to see very extensive decay that leads to tooth loss. For bulimic and over-eaters, high calorie, high carbohydrate foods put the enamel at risk due to increased sugar levels in the mouth. Vomiting (either self inflicted or from eating an enormous amount of food) exacerbates the problem by incorporating stomach acid into the oral environment. Anorexics are also prone to regurgitation of stomach acid due to lack of food in the stomach.

It is quite common in patients with an eating disorder to need extensive dental work over and over again. This is especially true to the backs of the teeth, (facing the tongue) since these surfaces would be exposed the most to the stomach acids released from vomiting. The gum lines of teeth are also prone to decay when habits of snacking through the night and not brushing occur frequently.

Soft Tissue Damage – The force of repeated vomiting also takes a toll on the soft tissues in the mouth. This can result in swelling of the tonsils and the uvula in the back of the throat. Another indicator of an eating disorder may be a red and swollen tongue or a lacerated palate caused by vomiting induced by placing a finger into the back of your throat (fingernails and other implements will damage the palate).

Other Eating Disorder Dental Issues Include:

-Gum pain

-Chronic sore throat

-Inflamed esophagus

-Palatal hemorrhages

-Decreased saliva production – leading to dry mouth (xerostomia)

-Enlarged Parotid glands

-Problems swallowing

-Jaw alignment abnormalities

Dental Treatment Options

An eating disorder is a major health issue and create all kinds of problems both to our dental health and systemic health. Communication is important to not only get help to overcome the disease but also to get proper dental treatment.

Dental hygiene becomes extra important in patients with an eating disorder because some of the damage from stomach acids in the mouth can be minimized if patients brush, floss, and rinse following vomiting. This can lessen the effect of the acids on the teeth. Damage will still be done if the habits remain for long or short periods of time.

Standard dental treatment for an eating disorder can include:

-Dental Fillings

Root Canal Therapy

-Tooth Extractions

-Periodontal Surgery

Eating Disorder Conclusion

An eating disorder is a very difficult disease to diagnose and treat. Dentists need to know the warning signs to be able to get patients in need to seek proper help. Eating disorders can ultimately kill and should not be taken lightly. The dentist should be able to speak openly about oral symptoms of eating disorders if signs are present. This is a difficult topic to discuss for most but is nevertheless important. The patient must feel comfortable enough with their dentist to tell them they think they have an eating disorder. The dentist should  be clear about everything, portray empathy and care at every opportunity. Body language is very important. Trust between the dentist and patient is very important to establish before moving on.

Once habits are addressed, treatment and restoration of healthy teeth and smile go hand in hand.. The power of a beautiful, healthy smile can do wonders do our emotional well being. A positive self-image and self-esteem are critical for recovery from bulimia and a restored, healthy smile is evidence of those feelings. Does having a new smile help that process? Absolutely. It has been shown time and again to be life changing. Even more important is restoration of the teeth to a healthy state so that the patient can eat without pain and regain health.



Many people assume that a baby’s teeth  are not important to care for because they will fall out eventually. This is simply not so. Not only can breakdown of these primary teeth cause severe discomfort and infection to your child, they can also have far reaching consequences into adulthood. As a matter of fact, in many ways, the primary teeth are just as important as the permanent teeth. Below are the top reasons why!

Caring For Your Child’s Teeth

Function. The primary function for any tooth whether it be primary or permanent is to chew and break down food for nutrition. Without teeth, it becomes extremely difficult to eat most hard, crunchy, healthy foods. No one wants their child to suffer the pain or embarrassment of tooth loss due to decay or infection. It may take years for the next tooth to emerge and allow him or her to eat properly again.

Development. Our teeth are essential in the development of a growing child. The growth of the jaws are triggered by the teeth. The teeth give the body a guide with which to grow from. Without this guide, there could be significant growth issues of the face, jaw, and bite. Also, without the primary teeth as space holders, the permanent teeth will have no room to enter into the mouth and cause crowding issues which can lead to periodontal disease, tooth decay, and occlusion issues. Some of these problems may be correctable with orthodontics (braces) and possibly a retainer, but some require further tooth loss, and possibly surgery. Most of these corrective measures are quite expensive. Taking the time to care for the baby teeth to prevent these problems is a far less costly and helps keep your child healthy.

Preventing Pain and Discomfort. Tooth decay is quite prevalent in today’s American child. This can be easily prevented with proper dental hygiene maintenance and a healthy diet. When tooth decay does occur, it is best to get it fixed right away,when it is small, and before the child even notices it. Tooth decay can progress quite quickly if left untreated, especially in primary(baby) teeth. If left untreated, tooth decay will cause pain, infection, and discomfort to your child as well as a more expensive option to repair (like tooth extraction, baby root canal or a stainless steel crown).

Infections in the baby teeth can lead to long term problems in the gums.  Infections can also  cause problems with the development of the permanent teeth.

Learning Tool. Baby teeth are the ultimate training ground for your children. It gives them a chance to learn good oral hygiene that will carry over into adulthood. Teaching them proper techniques and habits will be a lesson that will serve them well as they grow older into adulthood and beyond. These habits should include brushing, flossing, rinsing with an anti bacterial mouthwash, choosing healthy snack and meal options, and visiting the dentist at least twice a year.

Conclusion

Baby teeth are often misunderstood in their role of development. They are very important in a child’s development and should be treated with the utmost care. With proper care, a child will be proud of their smile, and have easy, fun, informative dental visits. If issues do arise, they should be treated early. The dentist and parents should be partners in a child’s dental care.



Dental implants have evolved over time and become an ideal replacement for a lost tooth or teeth. The long term success rate of dental implants is well over 95%. What once was a product offered to very few has now become a mainstream dental care service available to most.

Options For Dental Implants

Depending on each, unique, individual person, each dental implants case will be personalized. Depending on how many teeth are missing as well as the available quantity and quality of bone present. Below are some of the situations where dental implants can replace lost teeth:

-Loss Of A Single Tooth. At one time, this meant wearing a removable appliance (commonly called a “flipper”) or removing natural tooth structure from surrounding teeth to create a fixed bridge of dental crowns. The flipper tends to be uncomfortable to wear and may affect speech. The 3 unit bridge compromises the support teeth by having them do the work of the lost tooth, and by making them more susceptible to decay. The long term success rate is lowered due to difficulties in cleaning under and around the bridge. A single tooth dental implant, when completed properly, will last a lifetime and function just like a natural tooth.

-Loss Of Multiple Teeth. When missing multiple teeth in a single area, dental implants can be used to form a fixed bridge. The beauty of this arrangement is stability and the ability not to affect the natural teeth in any way.

-Replacing All Teeth. In the past, the only way to restore function was to fabricate a removable denture. With dental implants, dentists have the ability to restore natural function and esthetics.

Complementary Procedures To Dental Implants

There are times when other dental procedures are necessary to successfully complete the placement of dental implants. These include:

Sinus Lift. When you have a large sinus area that impinges on available bone depth, the sinus lift is a common surgical procedure. Sinus lifts are needed to elevate the sinus membrane and thicken a part of the upper jaw with a bone graft. This helps give  a dental implant enough bone depth to place it properly in the area you need it. Dental implants need a good quantity of bone along with good, dense quality of bone to succeed. The upper jaw is known to have poorer quantity and quality bone structure as opposed to the lower jaw. The maxillary sinus also plays a role in increasing difficulty in this area. Sinus augmentation can remedy these issues by raising the sinus floor and placing bone grafts in the area to aid in dental implant placement.

Bone Grafting. When the bone is not 100% adequate for dental implant placement, dentists are able to add to it by performing a dental bone graft. A bone graft is the placement of bone or bone-like materials in the jaw to to build it up. This gives an excellent platform for dental implants. Modification of the bone in this fashion has been shown to improve both appearance and long term success of dental implants. Typically, dentists try to place implants at least as deeply into bone as the crown or tooth will be above the bone. This is called a 1:1 crown to root ratio. This ratio serves as a guide for bone grafting in most situations.

Can A Dental Implant Fail?

It is quite rare for a dental implant to fail but when it does the dental implant must be removed. Then re evaluated as to why the failure occurred and to see if a new dental implant may be placed. Some of the common reasons for dental implant failure include:

Failed Integration of Dental Implants – This occurs when the bone does not grow and fuse between the threads of the implant. This fusion of bone to dental implant is called osseointegration. If this does not occur, the dental implants will not function properly,will become uncomfortable, become loose, or come out completely. To reduce this risk, your dental surgeon will evaluate the quality and density of the jaw bone prior to surgery. This will help to only place dental implants in areas where there is a highly predictable success rate. If osseointegration does not take place, the dental implants can be removed, and surgery can be attempted again once the area has fully healed.

Infection –  This is the most common complication of dental implant surgery. The surrounding bone and gums can get infected during the surgical procedure. This can happen due to non-sterile technique, a contaminated implant, poor healing ability(diabetic, smoker, osteoporosis medications), or pre-existing infection. The most likely time for this to occur would be during the surgical placement of the dental implant into the bone. Implant infection can occur after placement as well. Poor hygiene, too much force placed on the implant, or excess cement can cause the support tissue to breakdown. Implant infection is a condition referred to as peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is characterized by inflammation or swelling of the tissues surrounding the implant area. Peri-implantitis can also present as a secondary infection later on is a form of periodontal disease that can lead to inflammation, bone loss and implant failure if not treated quickly and properly. Although implant infections are usually caused by the presence of bacteria during or immediately after the oral surgery for the placement of the dental implants, an implant infection can occur months or years after surgery.

Post Surgical Bleeding – Some bleeding following surgery is normal and should be expected for about 1-2 days. Biting gently on a gauze pad placed over the surgery area for 30 minutes should normally stop the bleeding. Excessive bleeding is not normal and you should notify your dentist immediately if you have concerns about your dental implants.

Damage To Surrounding Tissues – Dental implant complications related with surgical errors affecting adjacent teeth, nerves or sinus are directly correlated with the experience and skills of the dentist or surgeon. An experienced and skilled implant dentist is able to identify potential problems by examining x-rays or CT scan (computer tomography), design the proper surgical plan for ideal location and angle, and execute it successfully without complications. Even with the most skilled implant dentist there is always a possibility of dental implant complications. The complications can be limited by choosing an implant dentist with the skills and experience necessary to handle any complications if they arise.

-Rejection – An extremely rare complication for dental implants but it has been noted in the research literature. The dental implants can sometimes be viewed as a foreign body.

Unusable Dental Implants – An implant that has successfully integrated with bone, but the area or extreme angle of placement deem it unrestorable.

Dental Implants Conclusion

Dental implants have been the solution for many. They come with risks but with proper treatment planning from a well qualified dentist they can be a successful tooth replacement for a lifetime of smiles.