As we begin our new year and focus on all the new experiences to come, we should also take care to attend to those who are a bit more practiced. Our senior family members can be quite a treasure, for as the proverb states, “…the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” Taking the opportunity to learn from our elders is a wise lesson learned, but taking care of them is itself a blessing of integrity. Health care and dental care can seem to be a challenge, but with a better understanding and the right approach, a great strategy toward maintenance can be achieved.
In treating elderly patients, it is difficult to avoid “treating to age.” Often, dental care is postponed or avoided because of false beliefs of the benefits or manageability of the care. However, degradation of oral health can quickly diminish a patient’s quality of life. Allowing teeth to decay and break down over several years can be more detrimental than the few hours it takes to correct the matter. Furthermore, with the advancement of treatment such as same-day crowns and digital impressions, not to mention an improvement of techniques and materials, dental care can be completed quickly and comfortably with desirable longevity.
Another aspect that continues to represent itself is the connection between oral health and systemic health. It is well documented that oral health has effects on heart health, diabetes, etc. In senior patients, maintaining overall health includes caring for oral health. Additional studies indicate a link between mortality rates or pneumonia and oral health suggesting neglected oral health in-home or hospital settings can result in the devastating effects of pneumonia.
It goes without saying that teeth are used for eating. When teeth are lost or damaged from poor care, it leads to drastic effects on nutrition which diminishes health and the quality of life. So please be kind to our more experienced persons and make sure they keep their dental appointments. Happy Smiling!
Dr. Matt Artho is owner and dentist of Country Lakes Family Dental in Bartonville, TX countrylakesdental.com and nine-time winner of Best of Denton County.