Facing Oral Health Challenges as We Age

People are living longer. With it, we see more patients over sixty-five with problems unique to their age group. Due to this, the dental field, and North Creek Dental Care specifically, is focusing more on geriatric dentistry. Our office employs Lauri Varga, a registered dental hygienist with a certificate in Geriatrics for Non- Physicians from the UIC College of Medicine. 

We asked Lauri what she believes is the biggest problem our aging population faces with oral health. Lauri stated, ” In my experience, patients age 65 and older face the most significant issue: bone loss and recession of the gingiva (gums) surrounding the teeth. This is due to Periodontal disease and the naturally occurring aging process. This bone loss makes it easier for plaque, food debris, and bacteria to attach to the tooth structures and settle into the space around the teeth. At the same time, this makes it more difficult for patients to keep the oral cavity at a level of hygiene that will ward off future degradation of bone and overpopulation of periodontal disease-causing bacteria.” Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in this nation.

Periodontal disease is not the only issue geriatric patients face. Medications that these patients are on can cause less saliva flow. The mouth counts on saliva to remove some food particles naturally. Decreased saliva paired with recession can cause cavities on the root surface. These root caries can cause the patient discomfort and sensitivity. 

As we age, our chances of being diagnosed with oral cancer also increase. The median age of patients diagnosed with oral cancer is 62. Everyone needs to receive an oral cancer screening once a year. Patients with oral cancer diagnosed at earlier stages have an increased survival rate. 

Some of these issues can be prevented by regularly seeing your dental health professional. Your dentist and dental hygienist will look at the medications you take, measure your pocketing around your teeth, recession, check for any areas more susceptible to decay, and perform an oral cancer screening. They then can tailor an oral health care routine to you. 

Are you looking for a new dental family? One that focuses on continuing education to best serve our community? Call North Creek Dental Care at 708-532-4131.

Dr. Bohdanna Czerniak is certified by the American Academy of Facial Esthetics and, as a dentist, is familiar with facial anatomy, and oral and perioral areas. We offer complimentary Botox consultations so you can find out how Dr. Czerniak can help you achieve excellent results to help boost the beauty of your smile. North Creek Dental Care is located at 18425 West Creek Drive in Tinley Park; (708) 532-4131.
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