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.

Smoking or chewing tobacco has long been known to be harmful to our overall health. Many, however, are not aware of the dental health dangers that can arise from using tobacco products. Below are a list of the dental health effects caused by the use of tobacco.

Ill Effects From Tobacco Products

Use of tobacco products have  direct effects on the oral cavity. We use our mouths to smoke and chew tobacco. Chewing tobacco is in the mouth damaging tissues for extended periods of time.  When smoking, the smoke is in the mouth for a short duration, but can cause tremendous damage as well. The issues that using tobacco products causes include:

- Chronic Bad breath (Halitosis).

-Discolored Teeth. Nicotine and tar present in cigarette smoke, form deposits on tooth surfaces and cause discoloration of teeth. These discolorations can range from yellow to black. Most smokers are aware of this discoloration but it is almost impossible to remove the stains using regular home care techniques.

-Dry Mouth (Xerostomia). This occurs when the salivary gland openings become inflamed.

-Bone changes. This can include changes in the quality and the quantity of bone supporting teeth, which may lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.

-Increased Risk Of Developing Periodontal Disease. Periodontal disease, chronic inflammation of the gums and bone support of the teeth, is a leading cause of tooth loss. The most recent research studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and advancement of periodontal disease.  A study published in journal of periodontology highlights that smokers are 4X more likely to suffer from advanced periodontal disease. Also, the chemicals in tobacco can make oral surgery or periodontal treatments less predictable. It seems that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease. Every Time you inhale, the blood vessels in the mouth constrict and impair blood flow to the gums. This decreased blood flow affects wound healing. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following issues:

-Reduced Healing and higher incidence of dry socket after tooth extractions.

-Increased Risk Of Oral Cancer. Oral cancer affects almost 40,000 Americans each year. Oral Cancer kills one person per hour (totals about 8,000 deaths per year). Only a little more than 50% of those 40,000 diagnosed, will be alive in 5 years. This is a sobering statistic that has stayed steady for quite a few years. Around the globe, the problem is even greater. There are a reported 640,000 new cases of oral cancer each year.

-Precancerous tissue lesions of the gums, teeth, and lips.

-Increased Risk Of Tooth Decay.

Is It Possible To Quit Using Tobacco?

Yes! A person needs to be ready to quit however. A half hearted effort will lead to failure. If you are truly committed to quit smoking, your dentist can help with certain medications. These can include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, puffers (an artificial cigarette with nicotine only), or referral to your physician for stronger medications . Most of these are over the counter medications but others need a prescription. For example, Zyban andChantix are prescription drugs used to help patients quit smoking, and must be monitored by your physician.

Smoking cessation classes and support groups are often used together with drug therapy. Your dentist may have more information on similar smoking cessation programs.

Herbal remedies, along with hypnosis and acupuncture, are other treatments that may help patients quit smoking.

Conclusion

Using tobacco products has a dramatic effect on our overall health. We know the damage it causes and have seen great developments in treatment of the damaging effects. Cessation of smoking is the key to success! There are many treatment/therapies to help you when you are ready to quit. Speak to your dentist and physician, they may be the best way to help you kick off your new, healthier, smoke-free, lifestyle.

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.

From time to time, we may all experience dental issues that we may not quite understand. Many dental symptoms may seem harmless at first but could develop into something far more serious. Below you will find some of the more common dental symptoms that can arise and what they might mean for your dental health.

Common Dental Symptoms

-Sensitive Teeth. This can start out as a slight twinge of discomfort when eating hot or cold foods (or drink), eating sweets, or while brushing. The sensitivity may subside quickly or become increasingly more painful. Sensitive teeth can be due to tooth decay, worn down enamel, tooth fractures, periodontal disease, or gum recession. Whatever the reason, it is important to have the sensitivity checked by a dentist to assess whether further might be necessary . There are many treatments for sensitive teeth.

-Bleeding Gums. This is a sign of the early stages of gum disease also known as gingivitis. Gums that bleed should not be ignored.  Many often make the mistake that brushing, flossing, or their dental cleaning caused the bleeding, this is rarely the case. Healthy gums do not bleed during hygiene procedures.  If caught early enough, gingivitis can be reversed with proper professional help and good at home dental hygiene.

-Pain In Teeth. Toothaches can occur from a variety of causes. These can include tooth decay, fractured teeth, infected teeth, or even periodontal disease. Any toothache should be examined by a dentist to see why it is happening.

-Halitosis (Bad Breath). This can be a troubling symptom for many as it makes us feel socially embarrassed. Bad breath can be caused by any number of things including poor dental hygiene, periodontal disease, smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, and even due to some medications we may be taking. If the bad breath persists after professional cleanings and improved at home care it is important to see your dentist to further evaluate the root cause of your bad breath.

-Oral Ulcers. These can be quite painful with causes ranging from infection (bacterial, viral, or fungal) to apthous ulcers (canker sores), or irritations from dental appliances. It is recommended that any sore lasting more than 5-7 days should be checked by your dentist to ensure your health.

-Clicking Noises, Jaw Pain, and Dislocation of Jaw. Temperomandibular Joint disorders can be very difficult to diagnose and treat. If you experience any type of jaw pain it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible to figure out the source of the problem.

-Discolored Teeth. A tooth discoloration could be the sign of a tooth that is dying due to trauma or infection. If the discoloration is more widespread it could be caused by ingestion of staining foods like coffee or teas. The discoloration needs to be assessed and possibly radiographed to determine the cause and decide upon treatment.

-Dry Mouth. Salivary flow is extremely important to maintain dental health. Our saliva acts to wash over our teeth and gums constantly cleaning and maintaining the proper pH balance in the mouth. Dry mouth (xerostomia) can be a symptom of many different health issues and medications. Your dentist can help you find a solution to dry mouth issues.

-Loose Teeth. Noticeable movement of teeth is a sign of attachment loss of connective tissues. Whether due to trauma, infection, or periodontal disease, mobility of a tooth needs to be checked by your dentist.

-Swelling. Infections of the mouth can and usually will exhibit swelling as the bacteria multiplies in the mouth. Dental swelling can be life threatening and should be evaluated immediately as to the cause.

-Cracked or Fractured Teeth. Damaged teeth can be caused by trauma or brittle tooth decay. Some cracks are so small they cannot be detected even with X-rays, but it is important to have cracked teeth checked by a dentist to ensure that no additional damage or decay will occur.

Dental Symptoms Conclusion

Being informed and educated regarding possible dental symptoms will give you an advantage in knowing when to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Generally, the earlier you receive dental treatment for dental symptoms, the better off you will be. Maintaining a healthy oral environment requires your attention to dental symptoms, and proper treatment in a timely fashion. It is best to consult with a dentist even if you feel the symptom might be minor.