Dental care at any age is critically important. Not only does taking care of your teeth and gums help prevent tooth loss, but good oral health is closely tied to overall wellness. The American Dental Association reports that dental issues are a leading cause of emergency room visits. Poor oral health has also been linked to a host of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.
Unfortunately, senior dental care isn’t always a priority. Medicare, which most seniors rely on for healthcare services, does not cover routine dental care. Seniors may also face additional barriers to care, including cognitive and physical decline or a lack of transportation, which increase their risk for dental issues.
At Penn Dental Medicine, we understand the challenges that seniors and their caregivers face, and are committed to making high-quality, affordable dental care accessible. From general dentistry to prosthodontics, we offer a full range of senior dental care services to support overall health and well-being.
Common Oral Health Issues Among Seniors
Seniors are vulnerable to a wide range of oral health issues. While some are caused — or exacerbated — by the aging process, challenges in maintaining oral hygiene, or other chronic conditions, can create other issues.
Consider these statistics:
- It’s estimated that 20% of seniors have at least one untreated cavity. Plaque caused by bacteria leads to tooth decay, an issue that’s often worsened by dry mouth. Many seniors experience dry mouth as a side effect of blood pressure, antidepressant, or asthma medications, which increases the risk of cavities.
- Nearly 70% of seniors have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is treatable in the earliest stages, but without regular dental care, it’s often not detected until it has progressed to the point where it’s causing bleeding and sore gums, and problems chewing. Eventually, untreated gum disease can cause tooth loss.
- More than a quarter of people over age 75 have lost more than one tooth, which can affect their ability to eat and eventually cause more severe complications like bone loss. In fact, research shows a correlation between the number of natural teeth you have and your lifespan: the longer you keep healthy teeth, the longer you may live.
- Living with a chronic condition can put your oral health at risk. Seniors with diabetes, for example, are at a higher risk for gum disease, which in turn can make controlling the disease more challenging. Gum disease is also associated with an elevated risk of heart disease and can worsen certain cardiovascular conditions and increase the risk of stroke.
- Seniors are at a higher risk for oral cancers, especially those seniors who have a history of using tobacco. Regular dental visits are vital to early detection and treatment.
Because the health risks associated with skipping dental care are so significant, Penn Dental Medicine provides comprehensive senior dental care.
Senior Dental Care at Penn Dental Medicine
Penn Dental Medicine is a one-stop source for accessible, high-quality, affordable senior dental care. Services include:
General dentistry: Seniors should see a dentist at least twice a year for basic preventive services, including professional cleanings and exams. PDM’s general dentistry also provides restorative care, like treating tooth decay.
Endodontics: Endodontics focuses on treating conditions inside the tooth, like inflammation or infection, deep tooth decay, or problems with crowns. Endodontists also perform root canals and other tooth surgeries.
Oral Medicine: Not all oral problems are related to your teeth. Oral medicine providers diagnose and treat medical issues related to the mouth, like dry mouth disorders or facial pain.
Periodontics: Our periodontists treat gum disease and other conditions related to the gums.
Prosthodontics: If you need prosthetic teeth, from a bridge to a full set of dentures, Penn Dental’s one-of-a-kind prosthodontics program has you covered.
Special Care for Persons with Disabilities
Living with a disability doesn’t mean you cannot access the dental care you need. Penn Dental Medicine’s Care Center for Persons with Disabilities is specifically designed to support patients with physical or cognitive disabilities, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. From hover chairs that can be easily moved around to care for patients on stretchers or in wheelchairs, to rooms designed with sensory sensitivities in mind, senior patients and caregivers can access dental services designed to meet their needs in this space.
Make Your Appointment Today
Dental care is vital to maintaining your quality of life and health as you age. Penn Dental Medicine makes it easy to get the care you need at any stage of life. As a dental school, we offer affordable rates to patients and accept direct payments from most dental insurance plans, including Medicaid. Penn Dental Medicine can also work with you to develop payment plans as needed.
To make services even more affordable, we are offering a $25 coupon good toward your first visit as a new patient. Click here to get your discount, and call 215-898-8180 to schedule an appointment.