Missing tooth solutions for seniors

Missing tooth solutions for seniors

As we get older, we begin to deeply appreciate that maintaining our oral health is crucial to our enjoyment of everyday life. Tooth loss demoralise us in our efforts, no matter whether it is the result of tooth decay, gum disease or dental trauma. In severe cases, a tooth may require extraction if it can’t be repaired through dental fillings, crowns or other restorations. However, losing a tooth does not need to have a negative impact on life. What you do about it makes all the difference.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the effects of missing teeth and the common tooth replacement options for seniors.

Australian seniors are missing over 13 teeth on average

In 2017–2018, adults aged 65 and over had an average of 13.7 missing teeth. Additionally, the percentage of adults with complete tooth loss rose with age, from 8.1% in the 55–74 age group to 21% among those aged 75 and over. (National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017-2018)

What are the effects of missing teeth?

The impact of missing teeth goes beyond just the physical appearance of your smile. Here are some of the many adverse primary effects of missing teeth:

Chewing and digestion problems:

Missing teeth can make it difficult to properly chew food, resulting in improper digestion. Poorly chewed food can strain the digestive system and reduce nutrient absorption, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies.

Speech impairments:

Teeth play a crucial role in the formation of speech sounds and words. The absence of teeth, particularly the front teeth, can alter speech patterns, resulting in difficulties with pronunciation and communication.

Altered facial appearance:

Your teeth provide facial structure. When teeth are missing, the jawbone may begin to deteriorate, causing facial shape changes and a sunken appearance.

Bone loss:

The roots of your teeth stimulate the jawbone, preserving its strength and density. When teeth are missing, this stimulation decreases, resulting in gradual bone loss. This can affect your facial structure and make future dental implant placement more difficult.

Adjacent teeth shifting:

When a tooth is missing, the teeth next to it may start to shift or tilt into the empty space. This can lead to misalignment, bite problems and difficulty correctly cleaning the teeth.

Gum and periodontal issues:

Due to exposed areas where teeth are missing, the gums can become more susceptible to irritation and infection. These areas are particularly prone to developing gum disease and periodontal problems.

Self-esteem and confidence:

Missing teeth can result in self-consciousness, lowering your confidence and self-esteem. You may feel awkward when you smile or interact with others.

Joint and bite issues:

Missing teeth can change the proper alignment of your bite, causing problems like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, headaches and jaw pain.

Oral health complications:

Untreated missing teeth can result in a progression of oral health issues, including gum disease, tooth decay and additional tooth loss. It can lead to a deteriorating state of oral health.

tooth decay

Increased risk of tooth decay:

The presence of gaps between teeth may trap food particles and make cleaning more difficult. This increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities in neighbouring teeth.

Limited food choices:

Certain foods, especially those that require significant chewing, may be difficult to consume if you have missing teeth. This may result in a diet with less variety and possible nutritional deficiencies.

Aesthetic concerns:

While this is generally the most visible effect, the appearance of missing teeth can have an impact on your self-image and how others view you.

It is essential to replace missing teeth to prevent future dental problems and preserve oral health, overall well-being and quality of life.

What are the solutions for missing teeth?

Dentures

Traditional removable option

Dentures have been a popular option for seniors with missing teeth for decades. There are two types of removable replacements: full dentures for those with complete tooth loss and partial dentures for those missing only a few teeth. The advancements in dentistry have resulted in dentures that are more functional and aesthetically pleasing, as well as more comfortable and lifelike.

missing tooth solutions

Dental bridges

Bridging the gap

Seniors often utilise dental bridges as a fixed solution when they are missing one or more adjacent teeth. These artificial teeth are attached to the natural teeth on either side of the gap. Bridges restore proper chewing function and preserve the alignment of the surrounding teeth.

Implant-supported dentures

Enhanced stability

Implant-supported dentures are the optimal solution for seniors desiring the benefits of both dentures and dental implants. These dentures are attached securely to dental implants, ensuring their stability while eating and speaking. This option combines the convenience of dentures with the durability of implants.

Dental Implants

Long-lasting restoration

Dental implants can provide permanent natural-looking replacements for missing teeth. These titanium posts are surgically implanted into the jawbone to serve as a stable foundation for prosthetic teeth. Dental implants restore chewing function and stimulate the jawbone to prevent bone loss over time, which increases in importance as we age.

Bone augmentation

Strengthening the foundation

Some seniors may experience bone loss in the jaw due to missing teeth over time. Bone augmentation, also known as bone grafting, is a procedure that enhances the density of the jawbone. This procedure creates a solid base for dental implants and ensures their long-term success.

Regular dental check-ups

Prevention and maintenance

Prevention is essential for maintaining oral health, particularly for seniors. Regular dental check-ups allow for early detection of potential problems and provide the opportunity to discuss tooth replacement options with your dentist. Your dentist can assist in customising a treatment plan to your specific requirements and desires.

dental check up

Regain your smile, comfort and functionality

Small investments in oral health typically provide massive returns in quality of life. Modern solutions for missing teeth offer a range of options for restoring oral function, appearance and overall well-being. Whether you opt for dental implants, dentures, bridges or a combination of treatments, consulting your dentist is the first step in achieving a more confident smile that lasts throughout your senior years.

Risks and solutions for problematic wisdom teeth

Risks and solutions for problematic wisdom teeth

Did you know that not all wisdom teeth need removal? However, there are cases when these teeth may cause problems such as impaction or infections that need to be treated.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why some wisdom teeth may require removal, what risks they may pose and how to deal with these problems effectively.

Common problems associated with wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth troubles can cause a range of oral health issues, from tooth pain to severe infections. Some risks associated with wisdom teeth include:

Impaction and misalignment:

When there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to come through properly, they can become impacted, which means they don’t fully erupt from the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth can grow at abnormal angles, which can damage nearby teeth or cause a lot of pain.

Gum infections and gum disease:

Wisdom teeth are generally hard to clean because they are in the back of the mouth. This can cause food particles and bacteria to build up around these teeth, which can lead to gum infections and periodontal disease (a disease of the gums).

Tooth decay:

Partially erupted wisdom teeth can be hard to clean thoroughly, which makes them more likely to get cavities. The risk increases when the teeth are positioned in a way that restricts proper cleaning, exposing them to bacterial intrusion and decay.

Cysts and tumours:

When wisdom teeth become impacted, cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs, can form. These cysts can put pressure on the jawbone or nearby teeth, which could cause damage. In rare cases, these teeth can develop tumours around them, which can become a very serious concern.

Systemic impact:

The potential link between oral infections resulting from problematic wisdom teeth and the risk of sepsis is an often-overlooked but critical concern. Sepsis is a rare but severe, life-threatening condition that happens when an infection spreads through the bloodstream and makes its way to all parts of the body. It is crucial to seek treatment when abnormal symptoms are apparent, as it may be urgent to treat an infected or trapped wisdom tooth.

Addressing problems caused by wisdom teeth

wisdom tooth

Regular dental check-ups:

Establishing a routine for dental check-ups gives your dentist the opportunity to closely monitor how your wisdom teeth grow and align together. This meticulous approach makes sure that any potential complications are identified as early as possible, which significantly reduces risks and future problems.

X-ray imaging:

Dental X-rays, specifically panoramic X-rays (OPG), can show you exactly where your wisdom teeth are and how they fit in with the structure of your mouth. This can help you and your dentist make more informed decisions about your oral health and treatment options.

Expert consultation:

When you have questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, your dentist can provide professional guidance and informed suggestions. Dental professionals know a lot about oral health and hygiene, and can give you advice and recommendations that are suitable for you.

Extraction:

Wisdom teeth that are causing problems or seem likely to do so are often good candidates for removal. This preventative method helps keep your mouth healthy and comfortable in the long run by preventing buildups of food or bacteria, infections, crowding (malocclusion) and other problems.

Anaesthesia and sedation:

Your personalised anaesthetic options will depend on your individual comfort and anxiety levels, as well as the complexity of the extraction procedure. Your dentist will ensure to provide a safe, comfortable and relaxing environment for you during your treatment.

Tailored care instructions:

Your dentist prioritises your oral and overall health in the clinic, as well as outside of the dental chair. When you undergo a wisdom tooth removal procedure, your dentist will give you detailed guidance on what to expect and how to take care of yourself afterwards. Their professional advice will assist with a speedy recovery and reduce the risk of post-procedure problems.

dental check up

Prevent wisdom teeth problems

Get help from your dentist and act quickly if something doesn’t seem right with your oral health, especially where wisdom teeth are involved. Regular 6-monthly dental check-ups and open discussions with your dentist are the best ways to diagnose and treat any dental problems. Remember that everyone’s case is different, and a personalised approach to managing your wisdom teeth can give you a healthier, more comfortable smile for years to come.

If you think your wisdom teeth might be causing problems, don’t hesitate to consult with your dentist for guidance and solutions.

Simple ways to help mothers improve oral health and avoid chronic diseases

Simple ways to help mothers improve oral health and avoid chronic diseases

Mothers are often the cornerstone of their families, providing care, support and love. However, due to age and pressures of life, many mothers are at risk of chronic diseases. These conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, can significantly impact their health, happiness and ability to fulfil their multitude of roles. Fortunately, many can be prevented or managed through healthy lifestyle choices, regular medical check-ups and early intervention.

Maintaining good oral health is essential for overall health, as poor oral hygiene can be a contributing factor in the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and respiratory infections. In this blog, we will explore the role of oral health in overall health, and provide simple tips to help mothers improve their oral health to reduce their likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases.

Common chronic diseases and oral health

Oral health as a contributing factor to the development of chronic diseases is an ongoing area of study which we keenly follow. Our steadfast goal in educating our patients about this serious matter is ensuring their life-long health and quality of life. When our patients get into their motherhood years, they may be at greater risk of some of these common chronic diseases which can have a relationship with oral health.

  • Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot regulate blood sugar levels, leading to health problems. The immune response associated with gum disease can consume so much of the body’s endocrine supply that there is not enough remaining for insulin production, which is used in blood sugar regulation.
  • Heart disease is a group of conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart attack and heart failure. The link between oral health and heart disease is multifactorial, with a one factor being that oral pathogens can enter the bloodstream through gum infection. Once in the blood, bacteria and viruses travel throughout the cardiovascular system and may trigger the release of large white blood cells. These large white blood cells can become lodged in small blood vessels, especially in the heart. Other components of blood, including cholesterol, then join the traffic jam which forms atherosclerotic plaque. This blocks the supply of oxygen and nutrients and, in the case of the heart, can lead to heart disease.
  • Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, often leading to tumours and other health problems. Dental infections can contribute to this condition by releasing bacterial toxins which can damage DNA and through triggering an immune response that causes systemic inflammation. Both of these can promote the growth of cancer cells.
  • Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can significantly impact a mother’s quality of life. These may be partially attributed to brain inflammation, chronic pain, lack of sleep and degraded self-confidence resulting from poor oral health. Since the brain inflammation factor is rarely considered, it is worth explaining. Inflammation of the brain can be caused by the inflammatory response that chronic gum disease can trigger throughout the body. Long-term brain inflammation can negatively impact mental health.

Good oral health is a critical aspect of overall health, as it can reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Neglecting oral health can strain our immune systems, adversely affecting our overall health. Mothers often put the needs of others before themselves, which increases their risk of developing poor oral health that can lead to feelings of fatigue, illness and an increased risk of chronic diseases. Therefore, we need to recognise the need for mothers to prioritise oral health to ensure their overall health, happiness and well-being.

Common chronic dental diseases

Keeping in mind the impact of poor oral health on chronic disease, we need to also consider common chronic oral health problems. These can be mitigated by good oral hygiene and lifestyle choices, which in turn may reduce the incidence of other chronic diseases.

  • Tooth decay is a condition where the outer layer of the tooth, called enamel, is damaged by acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. This can cause pain, sensitivity and infection if left untreated. It can also become a factor contributing to chronic diseases.
  • Gum disease is a condition where bacteria builds up in the gums, leading to inflammation, swelling and bleeding. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems if left untreated.
  • Oral cancer is a type of cancer that can occur in any part of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. If left untreated, oral cancer can lead to serious health problems, including difficulty speaking, swallowing or breathing.

Risk factors for chronic dental diseases

  • Poor dental hygiene can include inadequate brushing, flossing and dental check-ups. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Unhealthy diets are typically high in sugar and processed foods. These can contribute to tooth decay, as the sugar fuels bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that erodes tooth enamel.
  • Vaping or smoking can delay healing after dental procedures and increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can dry out the mouth, reducing saliva flow and increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Certain medical conditions, as well as certain health conditions such as diabetes, can affect dental health by reducing the body’s ability to fight infection and heal properly.

How can mothers prevent chronic diseases?

Preventing chronic diseases, especially when you are a mother, requires a multi-faceted approach. It includes healthy lifestyle habits, regular health screenings and check-ups, stress management and mental health support. Here are some methods that can help prevent chronic diseases:

Healthy lifestyle habits

A balanced diet, regular exercise and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are crucial for preventing chronic diseases. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Regular health screenings and check-ups

Regular health screenings and check-ups can help detect and manage chronic diseases early. Women should schedule regular appointments with their healthcare provider, which may include oral exams, blood pressure checks, blood glucose tests, cholesterol tests and mammograms.

Regular dental check-ups can help identify and treat early signs of dental issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay, before they become chronic. Your dentist can also advise on maintaining good dental hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing. Your dentist may recommend preventive measures, such as fluoride treatments, dental sealants or night guards if necessary.

Stress management and mental health support

Chronic stress can contribute to developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, depression and anxiety. Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing can help reduce stress levels. Seeking support from friends, family or a mental health professional can also be beneficial for managing stress and maintaining mental health.

Healthy mouths and happy mothers

At Leeming Dental, we want to empower mothers in their journey towards optimal health. When mothers improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, they may find it easier to fulfil their multiple roles with vitality and happiness. This is hard to do alone, so it is essential that they and those around them prioritise the simple steps needed to improve oral health. Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene, making healthy lifestyle choices and seeking regular medical and dental check-ups are key to maintaining great health and preventing chronic diseases.