Geriatric Dentistry

As baby boomers age (those born from 1946 to 1964) and the Silent Generation live beyond expectations (those born from 1925 to 1945), the likelihood that dentists will treat older individuals increases. Older adults are often taking more medications and have an increased number of medical conditions. They may have lost multiple teeth or have heavily restored teeth. At Vitality Oral Health we take all of this into consideration when caring for our aging patients. Our mission is to provide coordinated, comprehensive, competent, continuous, compassionate oral health care to every patient in our practice, throughout all the stages of their life.

How do you adjust care for elderly patients?

  • Use a mix of strategies to effectively treat the dental needs of aging clients. Our dentists and dental team provide sensitive and caring professional services. We seek information regarding the life circumstances of geriatric patients and tailor their treatment plans accordingly.
  • Seek education: Our dentists participate in educational opportunities and subscribe to journals to enhance their ability to effectively treat elderly patients. We become aware of, understand and bring compassion to the special needs of the mature population. We supplement this with practical experience in the treatment of seniors and the use of appropriate dental equipment.
  • Create a plan of action: Cognitive, behavioural, and physical limitations may contribute to an elderly patient’s ability to provide daily dental self-care. Our dental team learns about the patient and establishes a plan of action. We offer specific interventions such as electric toothbrushes, water flossers, modified floss handles and interproximal brushes for better grip.
  • A review of the full medical history of the patient is undertaken to learn the health issues that may have adverse effects on the patient’s oral health and/or their ability to maintain it. We adjust our treatment based on the ailments discovered (hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, COPD, depression, dementia, etc.) and medications taken for these ailments.
  • Adjust our facilities: Our facilities are accessible to those with physical and mental disabilities. We accommodate wheelchair patients and those using walkers.
  • Adopt a helpful, caring attitude: Our dental team strives to understand and be sensitive to the medical, psychological and financial states of our elderly patients. We consider the problem of informed consent and the low motivation for oral health care. We minimize people, noise, and distractions during visits. We request supervised or assisted hygiene if necessary.

What dental conditions in aging patients require special care?

As you get older, many age-related oral conditions may develop. These may include;

  • Dry mouth: The Canadian Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS) lists over 600 commonly used medications that can contribute to dry mouth, increasing the risk for oral diseases, such as dental cavities and soreness in the oral tissue.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease: Bad breath, receding gums and/or bleeding gums may indicate periodontal (gum) disease. This can contribute to heart problems and interfere with diabetes.
  • Root caries (cavities): As the recession of the gums occurs, the root is exposed and becomes susceptible to decay which can lead to breaking teeth and an increased risk of pneumonia.
  • Pathology: This includes oral cancer and less serious illnesses, such as candidiasis, an abnormal growth of fungus in the mouth.

Dental care for aging patients requires an understanding of and a sensitivity to the medical, psychological and financial states of these patients. At Vitality Oral Health we go above and beyond to do just that. We provide coordinated, comprehensive care to the elderly in our care.

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