Geriatric dentistry specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of dental conditions of the elderly population. Elderly patients may experience dental problems due to age-related diseases and functional changes. Dental problems commonly faced by older individuals may include:
- Periodontal disease
- Misaligned dentures
- Missing teeth
As humans age, their body parts tend to decay and weaken at an increasing pace. Teeth are affected by aging and and as people age, good oral hygiene can sometimes decline, increasing the possibility of dental problems.
Geriatric dentistry includes services such as restorative dentistry, periodontal therapy and tooth replacement options.
Common Geriatric Dental Restorations
Geriatric dentists may perform reconstructive dental procedures that may include:
Dentures are removable implants that fit to the upper and lower arches of the mouth in patients who have lost a significant amount of teeth. Dentures can be used to replace a full set of teeth, or partial dentures can be created to replace a few teeth.
Dental Crowns are caps or covers that are fitted on top of individually damaged teeth. When a tooth has become decayed to the point that the structure and integrity of the tooth are in jeopardy, the dentist will design a crown to fit over the tooth permanently.
Bridges are used to fill in the gaps of missing teeth, usually between two remaining teeth. The abutment teeth, which are directly adjacent to the missing tooth, are generally covered with a contiguous material that attaches both crowns to the bridge in the middle, which inserts as the missing tooth.
Dental implants are are made from titanium and fuse with the bone inside the gums after insertion. They are a permanent anchor used in conjunction with bridges, crowns or dentures.
Older fillings made with metallic substances such as dental amalgam, gold, resin or porcelain may crack after many years of use or lack of maintenance. Dentists may replace old fillings with new and stronger filling material.
While all dental problems and procedures cannot be avoided, geriatric patients are encouraged to continue to practice good oral hygiene which can reduce the need for dental restorations. Dentists will determine which procedures are appropriate for each individual patient.