How Often Should Seniors Have Dental Exams?
By Dr. David Wyse on April 21, 2020
Dental exams are an important preventative dental service. Along with regular dental cleanings, exams and check-ups can drastically reduce your risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.
Older adults (65 and up) are at increased risk of having dry mouth, dental caries, and mild to advanced periodontitis. While annual dental exams are recommended for most healthy adults, seniors may benefit from more frequent visits. Here, the team at Chrisman & Wyse Cosmetic & General Dentistry in Bloomington, IL, discuss the importance of dental exams for seniors.
What Makes Exams for Seniors Different?
Dental exams for seniors are performed in the same manner as other exams. The main difference will be the types of potential oral and dental problems that commonly affect older people.
According to the American Dental Association, adults 65 and over are at increased risk for certain conditions and dental problems. During your dental exam in Bloomington, one of our doctors will look for these age-related dental problems.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Xerostomia is most commonly found among the elderly. The condition, which is often the result of certain medications, leads to the insufficient secretion of saliva. Chronic xerostomia can have a serious impact on the health of the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. Saliva production is important for regulating the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
If you are found to have xerostomia during your dental exam, one of our doctors can recommend changes in habits that can mitigate the damaging effects of dry mouth. Finding alternative medications that do not cause dry mouth symptoms is another possibility.
The effects of enamel wear are progressive. Even with good oral hygiene habits, the chances of developing one or more dental caries increases with age. An astonishing 93 percent of seniors 65 and older have at least one treated or untreated cavity, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Oral cancer is very closely linked to advanced age and tobacco use. The average age of people diagnosed with oral cancer is 62, according to the ADA. Oral cancer has a higher mortality rate than many forms of cancer because the disease is often caught late. Your dental exam may include an oral cancer screening. The test is very affordable and can be conducted in a short period of time.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.Many older adults have moderate to advanced gum disease, often due to untreated plaque deposits. Gum disease can lead to gum tissue recession, which can further add to the appearance of advanced aging. To prevent or address gum disease, we recommend that senior patients visit our dental practice regularly for cleanings and exams.
Loose or Ill-fitting Prosthetics
If your bite feels “off” or if you experience jaw pain, it may be due to an ill-fitting prosthetic. During your dental exam, one of our doctors can check the stability of your crown, bridge, or denture. Minor adjustments can be made during your visit as needed.
Schedule Your Dental Exam Today
Preventative treatments are critical for maintaining optimal oral health and preventing potentially costly treatments down the road. If you are 60 or over, regular dental exams are especially important. Our doctors are trained to look for symptoms of age-related dental problems.
To schedule your dental exam, please contact our office online or call (309) 663-6393.
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“I love my "new teeth." I feel so much better about my smile. The staff at Dr. Chrisman's office was very friendly and professional. I would recommend them to anyone looking for excellent dental care.” Jennifer B