Dental Care as we AgeBy Richard G. Bennett, Jr., DMD
Like all types of healthcare, how patients and providers approach dental care changes significantly throughout our lives.
True, there are some factors that never change. But there are also plenty of differences in how dentists and oral health professionals treat us in different phases of our lives, and it is important to understand those distinctions – and to find an oral healthcare professional that puts a premium on how they treat patients of different ages.
It’s accepted that pediatric dentistry requires a unique approach. But the same is also true for adult and even geriatric dentistry. And that is because our mouths – teeth, gums, etc. – undergo significant changes through the years. How we expect to be treated and our overall health should also be evaluated in choosing any dental health professional.
For instance, as we age and begin to deal with the sometimes-inevitable consequences of time, we may be forced to take certain medications. Some of these medications can make a real difference in how your dentist treats you – mostly due to drug interactions. So, it is important to find an oral healthcare professional that understands the whole picture of your health and works around these developments.
There are also other precautions and methods that considerate dentists undertake as you age, and you should take note of how your oral health professional addresses these factors.
That includes an understanding of the changes we experience in cognition, senses, and physical abilities as we age. Dentists that can best aid all walks of life know how to make things easy for patients of all types. For children that may be focusing on making things fun and avoiding pain, as well as educating. For adults that may mean a no nonsense, time efficient visit. And for seniors that may mean minimizing distractions and placing a premium on comfort, as well as making themselves easily understandable. It also means that the oral health professional understands the need to occasionally communicate with a caregiver, as some seniors are not responsible for their own care.
The differences above all lead back to two important aspects of good dentistry: patience and flexibility. Oral healthcare professionals that embrace these traits educate themselves on how to provide the best treatment for patients of any age – including seniors. Because, while there are certain treatments that differ according to age, the best care is all based around caring and compassion. And the best dentists combine those facets with knowledge and access to the latest dental health technology to make for the best treatment of all patients.
Speaking of treatments, dentists who treat patients of all ages should be able to offer care that includes a wide range of options on top of what we consider as general dentistry – which encompasses hygiene, cavity detection and correction, fluoride treatments, and imaging. Beyond these functions, dental care as we age may also include:
- Cosmetic dentistry – Time leaves its mark on our bodies in various ways, including our teeth. Therefore, it is optimal to have a dentist that can address stains and other imperfections that can affect your smile.
- Dental crowns – As we age, our teeth take a little bit of a beating. That sometimes mean chipping or breaking. One of the best ways to address that issue is through placing crowns on the tooth.
- Dental Implants – Sometimes accident or ill health can cause us to lose a tooth. In many of these instances, an implant offers a safe, smile-enhancing route back to health. Implants function just like real teeth but require a multi-step process and commitment by patient and dentist. Yet they offer a wonderfully fulfilling option for many patients.
- Laser dentistry – This latest development in dentistry can address a wide range of concerns, from cold sores to periodontal disease to improving your smile – all of which are normal considerations as we age.
- Restorations – An alternative to crowns, restorations can do much to return a damaged tooth to normal appearance and function. They can also be used to correct older dental treatments.
- Root canals – If you are unlucky enough to experience a problem with the root of a tooth, a root canal may be your only option for relief. As we age, the odds of needing a root canal increase, and you want a dentist with experience and care should you ever require a root canal.
- Sealants – As we age, our teeth become more susceptible to decay. Sealants offer a route to permanently block problem areas that could lead to something worse for the health of our teeth.
- Sedation dentistry – No matter your age, there are certain patients who simply cannot relax in a dentist’s chair. For those patients, sedation offers a wide range of choices to make the experience more pleasant and endurable. Experienced and trained dentists will work with you to determine the best method of sedating you and smoothing the dental experience.
If you are seeking a dentist to provide the optimum care for you and your family as you age – or another family member as they age – consider the dedicated and caring professionals at BGW Dental Group. With three locations here in North Georgia, we offer both convenience and a wide range of treatments to help ensure your best oral health at any age. We also make it a priority to treat you or your family member in a considered manner that will produce the best results.
Contact us today and let us show you why we care for patients from age 3 to 103.
Gainesville office: 678-944-8295
Braselton office: 470-310-8662
Dahlonega office: 706-864-1275