Dentistry for Healthy Senior Citizens

 

I have a number of senior citizen patients (over 75), many whom I’ve treated for several years. Most of these people are physically healthy, and when a dental issue comes up, I evaluate what is best for that patient’s continuing health, while consulting with the patient as to their expectations.

 

For me, each patient is entitled to the best dentistry that is available. For example, an 87 year old patient had a failing bridge that was done 50 years ago, and the 2 teeth holding up the bridge needed to be extracted. The only choices for her were a) go around with 3 teeth missing, b) have a removable partial denture or c) have dental implants placed. This patient opted to have dental implants, and she was happy with the result despite the expense of the treatment. The point is that I needed to make it available to her, along with her other choices.

Another patient who was in his late 60’s with some health issues just wanted cleanings, and to treat any major problems that I could diagnose. This approach goes against my grain for totally healthy teeth. However, this patient was concerned about his personal longevity and didn’t want dental work unless there was an imminent problem. If nothing else, I can be honest my patients and suggest good choices for their dental needs and desires.

A major medical incident can cause the condition of patients’ oral health to rapidly deteriorate. Some patients are challenged in their home care. Others start taking a medication that can change the oral environment resulting in decay and/or gum disease.  Whatever the case, it’s my job to keep an eye out for that and adjust the appropriate oral treatments accordingly.  It’s my ultimate goal for our dental care to be a contributing factor to quality of life for all our patients.