Posts for: May, 2016
While older adults have many of the same symptoms and concerns as younger patients, they are at higher risk for many oral health problems. Other medical issues, financial concerns and less attention to their teeth and gums can all contribute to a decline in oral health, and impact their overall health.
Nearly 1/3 of older adults have untreated tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is associated with a higher incidence of gum disease, which is associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease.
Whether caring for natural teeth or dentures, those 65 and older should continue to follow the same dental regimen they did in their early years. Some of the issues that often arise, and complicate their dental care, include:
- Living on a fixed income
- No access to dental insurance after retirement
- Limited access to transportation
- Denture-induced tissue inflammation
- Dry mouth from medications
- Gum disease and decay of the roots of teeth
- Uneven jaw bone caused by tooth loss
- Thrush - an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth
- Increased risk of oral cancer
One problem often leads to another. Patients with severe arthritis can’t brush and floss effectively. Those with missing teeth or ill-fitting dentures find it difficult to eat a healthy diet. If taking multiple medications, patients often experience dry mouth, which can make it difficult to chew and eat properly, and lead to cavities and gum disease.
The best solution is to floss and brush your teeth thoroughly twice daily, using a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Aim to visit the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and oral exam. The cost of that visit is small compared to the cost of neglecting your mouth. Use an antibacterial mouth wash to reduce the risk of plaque and gum disease. Most importantly get to know your mouth. Pay close attention to any pain or sensitivity. It is better to address a problem sooner than later, especially if something doesn’t feel right.
If patients lack dental insurance, and paying out of pocket is not an option, find out whether Medicare or Medicaid covers your dental visits. Unfortunately, routine dental exams are not always covered, but medically-necessary procedures generally are, so in the case of a serious issue, you may be reimbursed.
The good news is that getting older, in itself, is not the problem, and people are keeping their teeth for longer now than ever before. However, those who take good care of their teeth, understand their limitations, and respond quickly when issues arise, are most likely to maintain their oral health - and their overall health - long term.
Pre- and post-operative instructions are invaluable when you visit an oral surgery office. However, after talking to hundreds of patients each month, our administrative staff has some additional ideas to make your procedure go more smoothly:
Danielle…timing is everything
Plan your surgery for the time of day that fits not only your schedule but your personal preference. Would you rather come in first thing in the morning so you don’t need to think about it all day, or later in the day so you can get things accomplished before your procedure? Let us know when you call to schedule your appointment.
Kathy…ask us first
Don’t google your procedure or read about it on the internet – and don’t listen to your friends’ stories about when they had their teeth out or visited an oral surgeon. Everyone has a different experience, and your doctor is the best person to tell you what to expect based on your specific circumstances.
Brianna… complete paperwork early
Fill out your registration forms at home before your visit, and use our online registration forms if possible to make sure those forms reach our office before you do. If the information you provide is accurate and up-to-date, you will avoid concerns later.
We want patients to feel relaxed – and knowing you’ve provided us will all the information we need means one less thing to worry about.
Sarah… stock up on snacks
Make sure to stock your fridge with soft foods like jello, pudding, ice cream and soup (but avoid hot soup) before you come in for your procedure. That way you'll be prepared when you get home. You should also pick up a package of frozen peas. They mold to your face and make the perfect ice packs!
Bring your favorite music along to listen to in the waiting room, and pick some favorite movies to watch while you relax at home later on.
Remember to bring all your insurance information to your first visit, whether it’s a consult or a procedure. That will give us time to process your claim and verify your information, which can lead to quicker payment.
Karen…have a good caretaker
Make sure whoever cares for you on the day of your procedure understands their commitment and knows what to expect. It’s your day to be cared for, and not to worry about anything.
Pam...food for thought
The doctors will tell you to leave gauze in your mouth when you leave the office, but don’t forget to take out your gauze when you eat or drink. You can replace it afterwards if necessary.
Dawn…hold that call
Leave your cell phone at home or with whoever accompanies you to our office. You may want to wait until later to call or text your friends.
Jan…make yourself at home
Come to the office in your comfy clothes, what you plan to wear on the couch for the rest of the day. Kids can feel free to come in their pajamas. Our office is about comfort, not glamour. Also, don’t wear pullover sweaters or sweatshirts, because you don’t want to irritate your mouth pulling it over your head. Finally make sure you have all your favorite squishy foods on hand at home for after your procedure. It’s a good time to indulge in mac and cheese or whatever you love. Your body needs calories to heal, so eat well.
Elisa… don’t worry
Dress comfortably, and wear comfortable and protective shoes - like sneakers. And don’t be nervous. You’re in good hands.
Tricia W… know your benefits
If you have insurance, it’s important to know what is covered under both your medical and dental plans before you come for your first visit. Checking your benefits in advance will help you better participate in your care, since your treatment may be impacted by your coverage and/or your ability to finance your procedure.
We hope you find this advice helpful. If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact us.