As your NW 23rd Street dentist, our team believes in the importance of improved patient communication. Your oral health matters, and the more medical information our dentists have to work from, the more comprehensive our patient care becomes.
Despite what many people believe, you don’t need to lose teeth as you grow older. By practicing quality oral hygiene – such as brushing and flossing – and scheduling regular exams with your NW 23rd Street dentist, you can enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime.
When seniors do start losing teeth, it’s most always as a result of gum disease and other oral health problems. For many seniors, prescription medications improve their lives by helping them better control certain underlying health issues. Unfortunately, many commonly prescribed medications cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Saliva acts like the body’s natural defense mechanism against harmful oral bacteria like plaque. When the mouth produces a normal amount of saliva, the mouth can successfully wash away much of the food that lingers in the mouth after eating and a significant portion of oral bacteria that naturally accumulates on your teeth and gums.
Dry mouth reduces saliva flow, which in turn allows harmful bacteria and food particles to remain in the mouth longer. The presence of these types of material helps to promote the growth of plaque – a bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
To offset the problems caused by medications, your NW 23rd Street dentist will work with patients dealing with dry mouth to help them properly restore saliva flow in the mouth.
While dry mouth is a common condition among seniors, a new study suggest that it may also effect a significant number of younger patients as well.
Dry Mouth Not Just an Issue for Seniors
A recent study from Indiana University School of Dentistry examined the oral health records of over 11,000 dental patients 18 and older. Examining the records showed:
- 53 percent of all patients reported taking at least one prescription medication
- 12 percent of patients between the ages of 18 to 24 took at least one medication
- 20 percent of patients between the ages of 25 to 34 took at least one medication
While a dentist may assume that senior patients take some number of prescription medications, many don’t assume the same for younger, presumably healthier patients.
Younger adults in the study were most likely to be taking antidepressants, which can cause dry mouth, and opioids, which carry a range of health risks when used habitually.
The results of this study highlight the need for improved patient communication. If your NW 23rd Street dentist doesn’t know about any prescription medications you may be taking, it’s becomes harder to provide that types of care your oral health requires.
If you’re taking a prescription medication, it’s important that you let our team know. As with all medical information, your privacy is guaranteed.
Our doctors need to know your full medical history to provide the type of care you need to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime. Just as you wouldn’t omit what medications you’ve been prescribed to your family medical doctor, you need to give the family dentist the same information to work with.
Protecting Your Oral Health
Your oral health really does matter. To keep you smiling brightly for years, make sure to let our doctors know the full extent of your medical history.
Studies have shown that patients experiencing tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing chronic illnesses like heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and even cancer.
Don’t let your risk for systemic disease increase due to poor oral health. By improving how patients communicate with their dentists, everyone will have a reason to smile.