Older patients require specialized dental care called geriatric dentistry. Mojgan Hashemi, DDS, provides comprehensive and compassionate dental services for the senior population at Los Robles General & Cosmetic Dental Center in Thousand Oaks, California. To learn more about geriatric services and how to keep your teeth healthy as you age, call the office or book an appointment online today.
Geriatric dentistry, or gerodontics, is the dental specialty focused on diagnosing, preventing, and treating oral health problems associated with aging. Elderly patients are at increased risk for age-related diseases and oral health changes, making geriatric dentistry important in the role of early intervention and prevention strategies to reduce oral diseases.
Common dental conditions associated with the natural aging process include:
Dry mouth (xerostomia)
Reduced saliva production increases the risk of cavities. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications cause dry mouth, and people tend to need more medications as they age.
Gums recede with age, exposing more of the tooth and root and contributing to an increased risk of infection of the roots and teeth.
Gum disease (periodontitis)
About 68% of adults over 65 have gum disease.
Untreated tooth decay
Nearly all adults over age 65 have had a cavity, and 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay.
Almost 1 in 5 adults 65 and older have lost all their teeth. Missing teeth contributes to poor nutrition as people without teeth prefer soft foods and avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that are harder to chew.
The median age of diagnosis for oral cancers is 62 years old. Cancers of the mouth and pharyngeal cancers are typically diagnosed in older patients.
Diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) contribute to periodontal disease. Medications taken for many of these conditions can cause dry mouth, increasing the risk of cavities.
Elderly patients may also show increased sensitivity to dentistry drugs, including local anesthetics and analgesics, making routine dental procedures more challenging.
Anesthetics containing epinephrine may be problematic for some elderly dental patients because cardiovascular disease is common among the aging population. Epinephrine can increase heart rate and blood pressure.
Dr. Hashemi limits epinephrine contained in anesthetics by the recommended maximum of 0.04mg for older adult patients or uses Novocaine® without epinephrine to ensure older patients can receive dental work safely.
If you or a loved one needs geriatric dentistry, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.