Oral Health Information and Tips for Older Adults
Effects of aging and medications. Ways to prevent and treat common issues.
It may come as a surprise to you that in contrast to losing your hair, losing your teeth is not a part of growing older. However, getting older does put us at a disproportionate risk for oral health problems which frequently results in tooth loss. As an older patient, oral health risks increase because of a few common reasons. Continue reading below where we address these issues and how to deal with them…
- After retiring, you may be at a loss of insurance coverage for dental procedures…
The kind of routine dental care that seniors need most—checkups, cleanings and fillings—is not covered by Medicare and out-of-pocket dental expenses are costly. It is important to maintain a consistent oral hygiene regimen in order to minimize the chance that major dental work needs to be done. 6-month cleanings and taking x-rays at your dental appointments are very important in protecting both your health, and your wallet. These procedures are much less costly than major dental work and help prevent the big issues from arising. By taking the necessary steps needed to prevent major issues, your mouth, and your wallet will be immensely grateful. The good news is that we have insurance coordinators that can assist you in maximizing any dental benefits you may have. We also offer a senior discount for many of these preventative services.
- Dry mouth….
Dr. Joe and Dr. Ted may refer to this as “xerostomia”. Dry mouth may be a natural result of aging, but it is also a common side effect of more than 400 medications. On the surface, dry mouth may not seem like such a big deal, but in reality it has detrimental effects on your teeth. The reason for this is that saliva plays a very important role in protecting teeth from decay. Saliva has a plethora of important antimicrobial components which help protect teeth and gums from infection. When there is a lack of saliva, teeth are more prone to infection causing bacteria. A good way to combat dry mouth and the tooth decay that comes with it is to use XyliMelts or another type of lozenge specifically designed for dry mouth. It is also advisable to drink lots of water and to brush after every meal, not just in the mornings and nights. If you find that you are prescribed medication that causes dry mouth, you can always ask Dr. Joe or Dr. Ted to provide suggestions for alternative medications which do not have the dry mouth side effect.
- Arthritis makes brushing and flossing difficult…
More often than not, technology is a wonderful thing. If traditional brushing and flossing are extremely difficult for you, the electric toothbrush is a great alternative. It is proven that some electric toothbrushes such as Sonicare and Oral-B do an even better job at removing plaque than traditional toothbrushes. If traditional flossing is a problem as well, a bag of floss picks can be purchased inexpensively at most pharmacies or supermarkets. A more effective, but also more expensive option is to buy a “water pick” which enables you to floss using water pressure.
- Periodontal Disease
One of the most common dental issues persistent in older patients is periodontal disease. If you find that you are diagnosed with severe gingivitis or periodontal disease it is extra important to brush and floss every day. Brushing and flossing is more effective when done with an electric toothbrush and a “water pick”. Dr. Joe and Dr. Ted can also prescribe special toothpastes or gels that help combat dental disease, as well as a daily treatment of high-fluoride anti-bacterial rinse.
- Missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures make it difficult to eat…
Your mouth is continuously changing over time, especially if you have missing teeth. As your mouth changes, your denture may not fit snugly, making it difficult to eat foods that are very important to your diet. Difficulty eating means you will likely eat less and also consume more foods that are highly processed, easier to chew, less nutritional, and worse for your overall health. If you find that problems with your teeth or denture are causing you to eat less, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with us to have your denture readjusted. The dentist can also place a softer material on the gum side of the denture so they are more comfortable. If traditional dentures are not working out, ask Dr. Joe or Dr. Ted about implant supported dentures. Implants attach to the jaw bone, and a special denture snaps onto the implants. These implant-supported dentures fit more snugly, and they look and feel like real teeth!
The staff at Gargano Family Dentistry are always happy to answer questions about your oral health. Give our office a call at 203-239-2356 or visit our website: www.garganofamilydentistry.com
How do you know if you might need a root canal? There are some noticeable signs and symptoms you need to know about. Having root canal therapy can save you from needless pain, and can save your tooth and your smile. Drs. Joseph and Theodore Gargano at Gargano Family Dentistry in North Haven, CT, offer root canal therapy to help you and your smile.
You will need root canal therapy when the innermost layer of your tooth, an area called the pulp, becomes bruised or damaged. The pulp is where the nerves and blood supply to your tooth are located. When this area becomes compromised, inflammation and fluid builds up inside your tooth. The fluid buildup causes tooth pain, which can be severe.
Some of the reasons you may need a root canal include:
- Severe tooth decay which has penetrated the pulp of your tooth
- Dental trauma from an accident or injury
- Repeated tooth stress due to grinding, clenching, or biting hard substances
- Repeated dental trauma for any reason
When inflammation of the pulp happens, you may notice signs and symptoms like these:
- Pain that increases when you eat or drink hot or cold foods or beverages
- Pain that continues even after dental treatment is completed
- Pain that radiates to your jaws, face, or head
- Sharp pain when you bite down or chew
- A white or red bump appearing on your gums next to a tooth root
- Blood or pus draining from the bump on your gums
- Your tooth becoming darker or grayer compared to the teeth next to it
If you notice these signs or symptoms, it’s important to visit your dentist. Dental x-rays and temperature testing are two important ways your dentist can tell if you need root canal therapy.
If you do need a root canal, it’s easier than you think. Your dentist simply creates a tiny opening in the top of your tooth and removes the diseased tissue through the opening. A sedative filling is placed inside your tooth. This material will eliminate inflammation and pain. After your pain has subsided, the sedative material is removed and replaced with an inert material and your tooth is sealed up with a small filling.
Root canal therapy is the way to eliminate tooth pain and still keep your tooth. Your smile is important, and root canal therapy can save it. For more information about how root canal therapy can help you, call Drs. Joseph and Theodore Gargano at Gargano Family Dentistry in North Haven, CT, today!
While dentures won’t last forever they can certainly last many years before needing to be relined or replaced. How you care for them will also determine how long they last. We know that once our North Haven, CT, family dentists Drs. Joseph and Theodore Gargano give you your dentures you will want to do whatever it takes to keep them looking and feeling their best. Here are some tips on how to care for your partial or full dentures.
Be gentle with your dentures: While your new teeth are made from durable, high-quality material they are still prone to damage. Be careful not to bend or break the clasps, especially when cleaning the dentures. Before handling your dentures it’s a good idea to place a towel on the surface so that if you do drop your dentures they are less likely to break.
Clean dentures after eating: Just as you should brush or at least rinse your mouth out every time you eat in order to dislodge food from between your teeth the same rule applies for denture wearers. Place a towel down on the counter or fill a sink with water and then run water over the dentures to remove any food.
Clean your mouth before putting dentures back in: You should also use a soft-bristled toothbrush and clean any natural teeth, as well as your gums, cheeks, and tongue to remove any bacteria or denture adhesive before placing your dentures back in your mouth.
Brush dentures daily: Along with rinsing your dentures between meals it’s also important that you actually clean them properly, too. Using a gentle denture cleanser and a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently brush the false teeth to remove any food or plaque. Make sure to also remove any adhesive that may be stuck to the dentures. It’s important to remove dentures from your mouth prior to cleaning them and to never clean your dentures while you are wearing them, as the cleaning products can be toxic.
Soak your dentures overnight: You should never wear your dentures to bed. Before bedtime, place your dentures in water or a denture solution to help them stay moist and to maintain their shape. If you have questions about how to store your dentures don’t hesitate to ask your North Haven, CT, dentists.
If you are dealing with tooth loss in North Haven, CT, then it’s time to turn to a dental team that can restore your smile. If you want to find out more about getting dentures, dental implants, or bridges call Gargano Family Dentistry today.
When you have a smile that you can be proud of, it makes you feel more relaxed and comfortable when socializing and handling your professional affairs. It’s worth your while to explore cosmetic dentistry with Dr. Joseph Gargano and Dr. Theodore Gargano. A number of helpful treatments, some that only require one visit, are available at Gargano Family Dentistry in North Haven, CT.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures
It’s very likely that your North Haven, CT, dentist will have more than one cosmetic option to offer you that will give you your smile back. Here are a few of the most common procedures:
- Dental bonding, to reshape the tooth and fill in small gaps.
- Tooth-colored fillings, to ensure that when you talk or laugh, dark spots caused by cavities aren’t visible.
- Tooth whitening, for extrinsic dental staining.
- Veneers and crowns, to rebuild and reinforce weak or unattractive teeth.
- Orthodontics, including “invisible” braces that you can remove to eat or converse.
How Cosmetic Dentistry Helps You
Living day-to-day with an unsightly smile can have a wide range of repercussions for a patient, including loss of self-confidence in your appearance and social anxiety. It can also affect how much effort you put into caring for your teeth and keeping up with regular dental visits. When you glance at your smile in the mirror or when taking a photo, you should feel happy about how it looks and do everything possible to keep it looking beautiful.
A Beautiful Smile is a Healthy Smile
The more you love your smile, the more you’ll take the necessary steps to preserve it and keep it in tip top shape. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your smile stays brilliant, white, clean, and healthy for a long time:
- Make a routine out of brushing and flossing—once in the morning, once at night, and after meals.
- Watch your teeth closely for signs of plaque or tartar buildup—have it removed promptly by your North Haven, CT, dentist at your next cleaning.
- Avoid biting into dark-colored, acidic foods and beverages as much as possible or rinse soon after eating—they can cause staining and enamel erosion.
Get Your Smile Back
No matter how imperfect your smile may be, Dr. Joseph Gargano and Dr. Theodore Gargano at Gargano Family Dentistry in North Haven, CT, can help. Schedule a date and time to visit, by calling (203) 239-2356 or (203) 239-0678 today!
As health care professionals, the staff at Gargano Family Dentistry not only cares about your smile; we are dedicated to providing our patients with health care information for the whole person and encouraging our patients to be as healthy as they can be. That is why it is important to remind everyone that March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. Cancer screening saves lives. Screening can find precancerous polyps (abnormal growths in the colon or rectum) that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also helps finds this cancer early, when treatment works best. However, about one-third of adults aged 50 or older (about 22 million people)—the age group at greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer—have not been screened as recommended. If you are 50 years old or older, get screened now. If you think you may be at increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for you, and how often to get tested.
Questions to ask your health care professional:
- Do I need to get a screening test for colorectal cancer?
- What screening test(s) do you recommend for me? Why?
- How do I prepare? Do I need to change my diet or my usual medication before taking the test?
- What’s involved in the test? Will it be uncomfortable or painful?
- Is there any risk involved?
- When and from whom will I get results?*
We encourage all our patients to talk with their physician about age appropriate screening for all cancers.
For more information on colorectal cancer visit: www.cdc.gov/screenforlife or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) For TTY, call 1-888-232-6348.
*information courtesy cdc.gov.
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