Seniors Health

seniors couple

Adults of all ages can enjoy good oral health and benefit from regular visits to Dr. Steffens. Your teeth and gums will look great and stay healthy for life as long as you take good care of them and visit Dr. Steffens regularly. As you age, you may need to make a few changes in the way you care for your teeth and gums. You are never too old to have healthy teeth and gums and you are never old enough to stop seeing Dr. Steffens. She wants to ensure that you maintain healthy teeth and gums for your entire life.

Examination and Treatment

Everybody needs regular dental exams. Please remember that even if you brush and floss your teeth everyday, you cannot see all the parts of your mouth.

Tell Dr. Steffens everything about your medical health.

It is very important to tell Dr. Steffens about all of your medical conditions, medications and your medical history. She needs to know if you have been ill or in the hospital recently. She also needs to know the names and dosages and frequency of: all herbal medicines, over-the-counter products and prescription medications. The name and telephone numbers of your physician and specialists that are involved in your medical care is also important. This will ensure that she is able to treat you in the safest and most effective way possible.

To help protect your teeth and gums against oral disease:
  • Use toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Visit Dr. Steffens at least every six months and bring a list of all medications that your are taking including dosages and frequency.
  • Brush your natural or replacement teeth at least twice daily
  • Floss your natural or replacement teeth at least once a day
  • Call Dr. Steffens if there is any change in your mouth, like a mouth sore, which persists beyond 14 days.
Here a few questions that I receive from many of my senior patients.
How do I care for my Dentures?

Taking care of your dentures and your mouth is vital to your overall oral health. Here are some of my tips on how to keep them in good condition:

  • Clean dentures over a water-filled sink to prevent damage if they are dropped
  • Alternatively, place a face cloth in the sink prior to cleaning the dentures to prevent breakage if the dentures are dropped.
  • Clean your dentures every day. Plaque and tartar can build up on false teeth, just like they do on natural teeth.
  • Soak them overnight. They can be soaked in a special cleaner for false teeth (denture cleanser), in warm water or in a mix of warm water and vinegar (half and half). If your denture has metal clasps, use warm water only for soaking. Soaking will loosen plaque and tartar. They will then come off more easily when you brush.
  • Hold your denture gently to prevent breakage
  • Place a small amount of liquid hand soap on a denture brush or soft toothbrush and brush all surfaces, including the clasps on a partial denture
  • Rinse your dentures well with water
  • Rinse your dentures under water after meals to remove loose food debris
  • To re-insert dentures, wet first with water to prevent discomfort
  • Remove your dentures at night to give your gums a chance to rest. Brush your teeth and gums carefully, using a soft toothbrush. Be sure to clean and massage your gums. If your toothbrush hurts you, run it under warm water to make it softer or try using a finger wrapped in a clean, damp cloth.
Do I need to replace my missing teeth?

If you are missing some of your natural teeth, you should replace your missing teeth. teeth. Dentures will fill out your smile. They can help you look younger and more youthful while providing support to your cheeks and lips. Dentures help with chewing, speaking and swallowing. Visit Dr. Steffens to find out if dentures are right choice for you.

Why am I losing my sense of taste?

Age is a factor when you start to feel like you are losing your sense of taste.  Various diseases, medications and dentures may be causing this altered taste sensation.

Why do my teeth seem darker?

You may notice that as you age, your teeth are becoming darker or more yellow.

  • Dentin (a bone-like tissue under the enamel) changes and causes your teeth to look darker
  • Plaque accumulates faster and in larger quantities as we age.
Why does my mouth feel dry?

Dry mouth (also known as Xerostomia) occurs when the saliva glands do not work properly. Saliva has many functions including: keeping your mouth moist, washing away food and neutralizing the acids that are produced by plaque. Dry mouth may damage your teeth if it is left untreated. Dry mouth may make it difficult to taste, speak, eat, and swallow. It can be caused by some medical conditions and many medications. Some of the more common medications are:

  • Bronchodilators (typically used for asthma)
  • Decongestants (typically used for colds)
  • Diuretics (typically used to increase the flow of urine)
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Narcotic analgesics (typically pain medications)
  • Sedatives (typically known as tranquilizers)
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Anti-hypertensive medications  (blood pressure medications)
  • Anti-depressant medications
  • Anti-parkinsonian medications

Talk to Dr. Steffens about your options to increase moisture in your mouth.

Why do I need to visit Dr. Steffens if I have dentures?

It is still important to visit Dr. Steffens regularly, even if you no longer have your natural teeth. She will examine your mouth to check for any difficulties including problems with the tongue, the joints of the jaw, as well as screen you for disease (e.g. oral cancer). Many issues including disease are highly treatable when identified at an early stage.

People who have complete or partial dentures can also get gum disease around any natural teeth that are left. If you have gum disease:

  • Your false teeth will not fit well over gums that are sore, swollen or bleeding.
  • Your partial dentures (or removable dentures) will not be held firmly in place if your natural teeth and gums are not strong.
  • Be sure to see Dr. Steffens regularly for professional cleaning and dental exams, so she can detect any early signs of gum disease, and provide appropriate treatment.

Oral cancer is more common in adults over the age of 50 who drink alcohol regularly, smoke or chew tobacco. Early diagnosis and treatment significantly increases long-term survival.

Most early signs of oral cancer are difficult to detect without an examination by Dr. Steffens. This is one good reason to schedule regular dental examinations. Even if you do not have any natural teeth, or if you have never smoked, oral cancer examinations every 6 months by Dr. Steffens are highly recommended.

  • Any non-healing sores in the mouth deserve close attention. Any change in your mouth that persists beyond 14 days should be examined by Dr. Steffens
My dentures are not fitting. What should I do?

Your dentures should not change shape. They are customized to fit your mouth. Your gums or the bone supporting your dentures will change naturally over time and your dentures will not fit you any longer. If this happens to you, please see Dr. Steffens so that adjustments can be made. In an emergency, dental adhesives can be used to ensure the dentures are stable until you can see her.


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