By: Dr Bruce Grbach, DDS
When I was in dental school in the early 1980’s, a professor told us during a class that once a person turned 65 years old that we should consider not offering them full dental care.
He stated that a person over 65 years old was likely retired and on a fixed income and was not going to live much longer so it was OK to patch teeth rather than fix them properly. This professor thought he was being kind to the poor old senior citizens by offering them less that proper dental care.
I was shocked at his statement. The longer I practice dentistry, and the older I get, I I realize just how wrong this instructor was in his thinking.
Some years later, during a continuing education seminar, the dentist presenting a course on managing aging dental patients made a statement that really impacted me. He said, “As we age, there are many things that become more difficult to do. If eating properly is one of those things, it will negatively affect your health and well being and shorten your lifespan.”
His point was that many nutritious foods like proteins, fruits and vegetables are difficult to chew and digest properly if you don’t have teeth. Studies have shown that seniors without teeth or ill-fitting dentures tend to eat softer foods high in carbohydrates and sugars. That’s because they are easier to chew. The impact on their health is negative because they aren’t getting necessary nutrients to sustain their bodies.
Services for Seniors
So what is proper dental care for seniors? In my dental practice, we don’t age discriminate. We offer the best care possible to all our patients. We take the time to understand any limitations our patients experience and find helpful solutions to enhance their dental health.
This begins with regular dental cleanings and exams so can keep your gums healthy and find cavities and other issues when they are small and easier and less expensive to repair. Our senior patients often experience issues like a dry mouth due to medications or trouble brushing due to arthritis. We take the time to understand these issues and offer our patients solutions like fluoride rinses, saliva enhancers and special toothbrushes and floss aides to help them clean their teeth effectively. It’s like the old Benjamin Franklin saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of care.”
In my office, we often see seniors that have not been to a dentist for some time because they lost their dental insurance when they retired. Most of the time they come to our office in pain and no one wants to suffer with a toothache. When we see patients in pain, the solutions we offer are most likely to be expensive or result in a tooth being extracted. All of this could have been prevented with regular cleanings and examinations.
Senior Dental Savings Plan
We offer a Senior Dental Membership Savings Plan that allows you to pay for your preventive dental care like cleanings exams and X-rays on a monthly basis and also receive a discount on any other dental care you may need. Our patients find this helps keep their dental care affordable
I have many patients well into their 70s, 80s (and some in their 90s) who seek regular dental care and want to keep their teeth for the duration of their lives. They enjoy eating, smiling and remaining healthy.
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