Healthy Mouth Healthy Body

Concerns for Adults Over 60

Aging,certain medical conditions,and medications may cause dry mouth.

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.
  • Discuss your condition with your dentist.

A lot of geriatric patients are already on a lot of prescription drugs due to various health issues. Before a dental procedure taking an additional antibiotic may hence seem cumbersome and avoidable to them.Also because of reaction of antibiotics with other medications could be a reason for concern for the elderly.

What is important to note is that an antibiotic is very necessary before certain dental procedures especially when there are certain conditions like diabetes,heart ailments,bone problems etc. You may think it’s not relevant. After all, what do your heart and joints have to do with your teeth? But, there are conditions with a high risk of infection and an antibiotic is recommended prior to some dental procedures.

The IDA recommends that you please update your dentist with all your medical conditions along with the prescribed drugs to save yourself further complications.

In the case of antiresorptive agents—medicines that help strengthen bones—these medications have been associated with a rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis that can cause severe damage to the jawbone.

Some antiresorptive agents, such as Fosamax, Actonel, Atelvia, Didronel and Boniva, are taken orally to help prevent or treat osteoporosis (thinning of bone) and Paget's disease of the bone, a disorder that involves abnormal bone destruction and re growth, which can result in deformity. Other antiresorptive agents, such as Boniva IV, Reclast or Prolia, are administered by injection. Higher and more frequent dosing of these agents is given as part of cancer therapy to reduce bone pain and hypercalcemia of malignancy (abnormally high calcium levels in the blood) associated with metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma.

While osteonecrosis of the jaw can occur spontaneously, it more commonly occurs after dental procedures that affect the bone or associated tissues (for example, pulling a tooth).

The IDA recommends that you should tell your dentist if you are taking antiresorptive agents so he or she can take that into account when developing your treatment plan. Eat a diet rich in calcium, even if you are taking medication, and ask your doctor whether or not you should take calcium and vitamin D supplements.

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 loosen 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.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Chronic periodontitis can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. This is the most common form of periodontitis in adults but can occur at any age. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.

Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.

The IDA recommends that you visit your dentist every six months for a routine checkup and cleaning .Brush your teeth twice a day.Use interdental brush to clean the proximal areas of teeth if gaps are wide or floss your teeth.Use a mouthwash.

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.

The IDA recommends that 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.

If you have habits like smoking,tobacco chewing,etc which increase the chances of getting oral cancer,its time to give up those habits.

If you have a denture or sharp tooth edge constantly hurting your tongue,lips or cheeks,have it attended to by your dentist .Chronic injury can predispose to oral carcinoma.

Do not take your health for granted.

Pacemakers are used to treat the following:

  1. Pacemakers are used most commonly to treat bradyarrythmias, which are slow heart rhythms that may arise from disease in the heart's electrical conduction system (such as the SA node, AV node, or HIS- Purkinje system).
  2. Heart failure. This is called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) or biventricular pacing.
  3. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  4. Syncope (fainting spells).

Implantable cardiac devices, such as pacemakers or implantable defibrillators, use electrical impulses to help the heart maintain its proper rhythm.

Some of the ultrasonic tools your dentist uses, such as certain ultrasonic scalers or instrument cleaning systems, have the potential to interfere with these cardiac devices and could result in an irregular heartbeat.

The IDA recommends that it is important that you keep your dentist up to date about your general health, including medicines or treatments you are receiving. In this case, he or she may want to avoid using certain ultrasonic devices as part of your care.

Having a pace maker or defibrillator is no reason one must avoid dental treatment.Just modifying your treatment to suit your specific needs is all that is needed.In fact now,more than ever you must take care of oral hygiene,as several studies have linked poor oral hygiene with risks of getting strokes.

Sjögren’s (pronounced SHOW-grins) syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture- producing glands, the tear- secreting and salivary glands as well as other organs.

Symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes and dry mouth
  • Dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system
  • Extreme fatigue and joint pain.

Nine out of 10 patients diagnosed with the disorder are women.The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown.  It is one of the most common autoimmune disorders. Due to the decreased flow of saliva, Sjögren’s can pose a serious threat to your oral health.

The IDA recommends that if you suffer from dry mouth, it is important to be proactive and discuss your treatment options with your dentist or physician.

Thrush (also called Candidiasis or moniliasis) is a fungal infection that occurs when the yeast Candida albicans reproduce in large numbers. It is common among denture wearers. Most often it occurs in people with weak immune systems—the very young, elderly or those debilitated by disease, such as diabetes or leukemia. In addition, people with dry mouth syndrome are susceptible to candidiasis. Candida may also flourish after antibiotic treatment, which can decrease normal bacteria in the mouth.

Controlling candidiasis means focusing on preventing or controlling the condition that causes the outbreak.

Good oral hygiene is essential.

The IDA recommends that you clean your dentures and remove them at bedtime. If the cause is dry mouth saliva substitutes and prescription medications may be helpful when the underlying cause of dry mouth is incurable or unavoidable.