What Should Your Senior Expect During a Dental Exam?
By Kevin Edwards, President
National Dental Hygiene Month, which happens every October, is the perfect time to make an appointment for your elder at the dentist. If she hasn’t been in a while, she may be a little nervous about what to expect. Some potential problems are especially important for her dentist to address.
Questions about Any Changes in Her Mouth
Your senior’s dentist might open with a few questions about whether she’s noticed any changes in her mouth since her last visit. This is an opportunity for your elderly family member to share generally how she’s been feeling. If it’s been a while since her last dental checkup, your elderly family member might feel reluctant to answer or she might not remember some changes.
Questions about Sensitivity or Pain
Sometimes people overlook sensitivity in teeth, especially when it seems to come and go. If your elderly family member only experiences sensitivity when eating something sweet, for instance, she might overlook that at the dentist. Her dentist will likely also ask her where she’s experiencing any pain, if she is at all. That’s something that her dentist can troubleshoot for her to determine what is causing either pain or sensitivity.
Questions about Her Sense of Taste
If your elder has experienced any changes to her sense of taste, that can be important information. Sometimes this is a side effect of some ailments or even medications, but it can also be a normal part of the aging process. Questioning from her dentist can help to narrow down the cause.
Questions about Swallowing and Chewing
Your elder may not think about problems with swallowing or even with chewing being something her dentist should know about. But these questions can help to determine if there’s swelling or other issues in certain areas that can be treated.
A Thorough Exam
After all these questions, your senior is finally ready for the exam that might have had her feeling nervous. This might consist of x-rays as well as a visual exam with tools. The exam helps to confirm what your senior’s dentist already suspects, just like an exam for you would. From there, her dentist can come up with some recommendations depending on her individual situation.
Knowing what to expect can help aging family members to relax a little bit about the idea of going to the dentist. Regular dental care is vital afterward. If your senior is having trouble managing her own dental care, elder care providers can help with all aspects of daily brushing, flossing, and denture care.