Last updated 5 months ago
The Link between Medications and Cavities
You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Here are some common recommendations:
Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.
Many older adults have gum or periodontal disease caused by the bacteria in plaque, which irritate the gums, making them swollen, red and more likely to bleed. One reason gum disease is so widespread among adults is that it’s often a painless condition until the advanced stage. If left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces called pockets where food particles and more plaque may collect. Advanced gum disease can eventually destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss. The good news is that with regular dental visits gum disease can be treated or prevented entirely.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 35,000 cases of mouth, throat and tongue cancer diagnosed each year. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62. During dental visits, your dentist will check for any signs of oral cancer. Regular dental visits are important because in the early stages oral cancer typically does not cause pain and early detection saves lives. Some symptoms you may see include open sores, white or reddish patches, and changes in the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks.
Paying for Dental Care after Retirement
Many retirees don’t realize that Medicare does not cover routine dental care. Begin to plan for your dental expenses in advance of retirement so you don’t have to let your dental health suffer once you’re on a fixed income. Organizations like AARP offer supplemental dental insurance plans for their members. You can search for a dental plan at the National Association of Dental Plans website.
Many dentists offer no interest or low interest financing plans that may be a better option than paying for your dental work on a household credit card with a higher interest rate. If you have concerns about continuing your dental care due to a limited income, talk to your dentist. He or she may be able to offer solutions.
Last updated 6 months ago
Just 60 years ago, it was an assumption that as we age we would lose our natural teeth. But, that’s not the case for today’s older adults who are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before. A healthy mouth and teeth help you look good, eat delicious and nutritious foods, and speak clearly and confidently. Being mouth healthy is essential for good quality of life.
Brushing and flossing your teeth is just as important for you as it is for your grandchildren. Even though it may have been years since you’ve had a cavity, your risk of cavities increases with age. One of the reasons is dry mouth—a common side effect of many prescription medications.
Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head to get to those hard to reach areas. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles becomes frayed. If you have arthritis or other condition that limits movement, try an electric toothbrush.
Clean between teeth daily with floss. If floss is too difficult to work with, try a floss pick or tiny brushes made specifically to clean between teeth.
When you’re buying oral care products, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal has been around since 1931, and when you see it on a package you can trust that the product is safe and does what the manufacturer advertises.
Clean Dentures Daily
Bacteria stick to your teeth and also to full or partial dentures. If you wear dentures, remember to clean them on a daily basis with cleaners made specifically for dentures. Do not use toothpastes for natural teeth or household cleaners, which are too abrasive and can damage dentures that can be expensive to replace.
Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every 24 hours to keep the lining of your mouth healthy. It’s best to remove your full or partial dentures at night. Your dentist will provide you with instructions about how long your dentures should be worn each day.
Visit a Dentist Regularly
Get regular dental checkups at least once a year – please do not wait until you have pain. Why? As you age, the nerves inside your teeth become smaller and less sensitive. By the time you feel pain from a cavity, it may be too late and you may lose your tooth. There are also more serious conditions that your dentist will look for, like oral cancer and gum disease, which do not always cause pain until the advanced stages of the disease. By then, it’s more difficult and costly to treat.
When you go to your dentist for a check-up bring the following information:
List of medications, including vitamins, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medication.
List of medical conditions and allergies
Information and phone numbers of all health care providers, doctors, and your previous dentist
Information about your emergency contacts, someone who can help make decisions on your behalf in the case of a medical emergency
Dental insurance or Medicaid cards
Your dentures or partials, even if you don’t wear them
Be sure to talk with your dentist about how to properly secure and dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications, especially if there are any children in the household. Also, take the time to talk with your children and/or grandchildren about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
Drink Water with Fluoride
No matter what age you are, drinking water with fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter. Many community water systems contain added fluoride, but if you prefer bottled water, check the label because some do not contain fluoride. And, some home water filters remove fluoride from the tap water. Visit the ADA Seal product search page for a list of water filters that do not remove fluoride from tap water.
It’s never too late to quit smoking. Smoking increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss. It also slows down healing after dental procedures and can decrease the success rate of dental implants. Talk to your dentist about quitting. There are tobacco cessation programs, over-the-counter products and prescription medications that your dentist may prescribe or recommend to help you quit for good. Smokefree.gov is another good resource to help you quit today.
Last updated 6 months ago
Join us in welcoming the newest members of our Cuddly Critter Family--the Fluffy Flossing Lambs. They are looking for a good home. Kids, get mom and dad to bring you in for your next cleaning visit and you can enter your name in the drawing.
Last updated 6 months ago
Dental Assistant, Kristy, and her husband Brian, welcomed Avery Ann to their family on March 11, 2014. She entered the world weighing 8 lbs 6.5 oz and was 21 inches long. We are excited to see our "Dental Family" growing.
Congratulations, Kristy and Brian!
Last updated 6 months ago
For those 40-60, see how much you know about oral health for your age by taking this "Fact or Fiction".
1-Everyone’s mouth can be dry sometimes.
2-If I’m not having any pain in my mouth, there’s no need to see a dentist.
3-Everyone needs dentures at some point.
4-There is no cure for sensitive teeth.
5-Plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
Below are the answers. See how well you did. Hopefully you learned something new about oral health.
1- Fact--Having a dry mouth is not itself serious, but taking care of your teeth and gums and regular dental visits are important when living with dry mouth. Without the cleansing effects of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems can become more common.
2- Fiction--Don’t wait for your teeth to hurt before seeing a dentist. In many cases, by the time you are in noticeable pain, it’s too late to treat a cavity or gum disease. To prevent this, make sure to schedule regular dental visits.
3- Fiction--Thanks to good dental care, many people are keeping their teeth their entire lives. Prevention is key. Always brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day and see your dentist regularly. This simple routine can help you remain Mouth Healthy for Life.
4- Fiction--Sensitive teeth can be treated. Your dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste or an alternative treatment based on the cause of your sensitivity. Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.
5- Fact--When tartar collects above or below the gumline, the gum tissue can become swollen and may bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. You can prevent plaque buildup by regularly visiting the dentist, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with dental floss daily.