J. Peter St. Clair, DMD Blog
May 1, 2017
This is the final column of this series. If you missed any of the past segments, you can find them at www.thetowncommon.com.
I’ve heard of some new cosmetic techniques that can improve smiles. Are they appropriate for older adults?
Older adults can benefit from many of the options available today for improving the look of a smile. Your dentist can describe and discuss with you the range of treatments that would be right for you. Part of older adulthood is the acceptance of aging and the development of realistic expectations for appearance. In that context, dental treatment for older adults can be a healthy and adaptive way of maintaining dental health and emotional well-being.
Our teeth and mouth play a critical role in psychological development and well-being throughout our lives. Modern dentistry has expanded esthetic options for people of all ages. Coupled with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, cosmetic techniques can help improve the appearance of your smile.
I’m on a limited, fixed income and can’t really afford regular dental treatment. Are there any resources available to help me?
Even if you cannot pay for dental care, you don’t need to live without it. Thousands of dentists across the country assist the elderly on fixed incomes by offering their services at reduced fees through dental society-sponsored assistance programs. The availability of such aid varies from one community to another, so call your local dental society for information about where you can find the nearest assistance programs and low-cost dental care locations, such as public health and dental school clinics. Other sources of such information are local social service organizations.
What is dentistry doing to better serve older adults?
Dentists are experiencing a quiet revolution in their offices as the number of older patients increases steadily. The profession knows that this burgeoning population group is wearing fewer dentures and is keeping natural teeth longer. Also, we know that some patients in this group require special consideration because reduced mobility and dexterity may make daily oral hygiene difficult. In addition, medical conditions and impairment are factors that dentists take into account for certain patients.
Sometimes, lack of awareness about available treatments and techniques leads older patients to make false assumptions about their dental health and tolerate conditions such as toothaches, bleeding gums and clicking dentures. Dentists are gaining practical information on how to effectively manage the treatment needs of older patients. Many dental societies have set up access programs to assist older adults, individuals with physical or mental disabilities or indigent persons to receive care.
The dental profession is increasingly sensitive to the special needs of and the importance of dental health in the older patient. Older adults are more health conscious as a group than ever before. Their oral health is an important part of their overall health and the dental profession is committed to providing the treatment and guidance older adults need to maintain it.
April 3, 2017
I find that some foods have become difficult to chew and swallow. Do I really need to eat the same amount or variety of food that I did when I was younger?
Maintaining proper nutrition is important for everyone, young or old. Many older adults do not eat balanced diets and avoid meats, raw vegetables and fresh fruits because they have trouble chewing or swallowing. These problems can be caused by painful teeth, ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth or changes in facial muscles. Others find their sense of taste has changed, sometimes due to a disease or certain medications.
March 20, 2017
I understand that periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, but is there anything I can do about it?
Gum disease—periodontal disease—often progresses slowly, without pain, over a long period of time. This is one reason why it is common among older adults. The longer the disease goes undetected and uncontrolled, the more damage it causes to gums and other supporting tissues. Although periodontal disease is caused by bacteria, other factors can increase the risk or severity of the condition. These include food left between the teeth, smoking, smokeless (spit) tobacco use, badly aligned teeth, ill-fitting bridges or partial dentures, poor diets and some systemic diseases such as diabetes.
March 13, 2017
Isn’t tooth loss inevitable in the later years?
Today, older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer because of scientific developments and the preventive emphasis in dentistry. This improvement was seen in the results of a survey released by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. They showed that among persons aged 55 to 64, the rate of toothlessness dropped 60 percent since 1960.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are important throughout your life, whatever your age. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist regularly, you will prevent dental problems and save time and money as well.
March 6, 2017
When we ask for a Kleenex or a Ziploc we may not necessarily get that brand, but we know we will get a tissue or a sealable plastic bag. It is always interesting to me hearing the different things people say in the dental office that seem to be “standard” among the general population.
For example, most people use the term “Novocain”. Even dentists, including myself, use this term daily to describe the local anesthetic used to anesthetize or “numb” teeth before they are worked on. Novocain, apparently still available for purchase, has not been used in dentistry for probably 100 years, but we still use the term because everyone seems to know what we mean. We may say “Novocain” but that is not what we are writing in your medical record.
February 27, 2017
If you missed any of this series, they can be found at www.thetowncommon.com.
The dental insurance industry is getting more and more competitive. Insurance companies are looking to increase profits and those purchasing dental insurance (usually employers), are mindful of the cost of plans. To increase profits, insurance companies either have to continue to increase the cost of their premiums, or decrease their expenditures. Employers certainly do not want to see an increase in premiums. So, most insurance companies are trying to remain competitive by keeping their premiums lower but paying out less in benefits.
February 21, 2017
If you missed any of this series, they can be found at www.thetowncommon.com.
Is there a solution to the dental insurance problem we have in this country? I can tell you the way I see it, different groups of dentists may have different views, large dental chains see it from a different perspective, consumers have varied opinions, and insurance companies are leading the way with their solution. These are all very different perspectives.
February 13, 2017
This is the second column my series about the state of dental insurance in our country. The information presented is intended to explain “dental insurance” from a perspective which may be different than most consumer’s view of insurance. I encourage you to read all the columns in this series. If you missed any they can be found at www.thetowncommon.com. I hope the information helps you to make more informed decisions about your dental health.
February 6, 2017
The Merriam-Webster definition of insurance is “coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril.” We have insurance on our house and car. If our car gets damaged, we usually pay a deductible and the insurance picks up the rest. If our house burns down, we have insurance to help us rebuild it. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works in dentistry.
January 30, 2017
Did you know you swallow approximately 2,000 times per day? When you swallow, the upper and lower teeth come together and some level of force is generated. People who have an unstable bite, missing teeth, or poorly aligned teeth can have trouble because the muscles work harder to bring the teeth together, causing strain. People with seemingly good teeth/bite are also susceptible. Pain can also be caused by clenching or grinding teeth, trauma to the head and neck, or poor ergonomics.