Geriatric dentistry is anything but medicine for old people, but rather, prevention of tooth loss and modern, high-quality dental prostheses into your later years! (read more)

50Plus: Alterszahnmedizin? Von wegen!

Keineswegs Medizin für den älteren Menschen, sondern Vorbeugung gegen Zahnlosigkeit und moderner, hochwertiger Zahnersatz bis ins hohe Alter!

Dental caries (cavities) and periodontitis are not problems specific to older patients or seniors. Any of the following dental problems can affect patients of any age, not only patients over fifty. Beautiful and healthy teeth are not a question of age!

*When the periodontal attachment apparatus - the structure that attaches the tooth to the bone - becomes inflamed, this is called periodontitis. In the vernacular, or sometimes in the media, one sometimes hears the term ‘periodontosis’. (see Menu point: Periodontology)

The fact is that we are living longer than ever before. The film and advertising industries exemplify this: These days women over 50 are considered style and beauty icons. Twenty years ago this would have been unthinkable. Sociologists are in agreement on this: 50- to 60-year olds are the new 40. Because of this, when we compare ourselves to the previous generation, we see ourselves as “older” than we are.

Cavities and periodontitis are today the most common human illnesses, which shows the high probability of these occurring when oral hygiene, professional dental care (professional teeth cleaning) and the sensible provision of dental prostheses is neglected.

Why oral hygiene and dental care is so important as we age: The findings of the comprehensive German Oral Health Study IV (Deutsche Mundgesundheitsstudie IV, DMS IV) are striking: 77.3% of 65- to 75-year-olds have an average of 18 teeth. In comparison to ten years ago, this is an extremely high number. Scientists surmise, assuming the same prophylaxis trend continues, that even less tooth loss can be expected.

It is clear that we would have fewer complaints and less pain if we regularly looked after our oral health. We would experience that our teeth - natural and prosthetic - would last longer and cost less than merely fixing them when something goes wrong.

At this stage, we must shatter the myth that the older patient is more susceptible to oral disease and that therapeutic approaches used in younger patients are no longer viable for patients over sixty. In principle, the disease progession and risk factors are the same as in younger patients.

-    For example, the incidence of tooth decay is the same as in a 15-year-old.

-    It has been scientifically proven that age has no significant biological influence on the healing process or long-term stability of implants.

-    Also, the oral mucous membrane shows no differences when compared to young patients.

-    Irritation and pain perception remain the same.

-    Salivary composition and amount change very little with age. So-called “dry mouth” results from decreasing thirst (one simply drinks less) and the

     increased need for medicines.

-    Also, taste perception changes very little with age.

It follows that there is no reason why a person, with his own teeth or with dental implants, cannot enjoy his favorite meal well into old age. This is true quality of life. Today, people of all ages can take the rudder of their own lives!

There is yet another argument that should interest everyone: Optimal oral care reduces the risks in our overall health. This is initially hard to believe because of the popular opinion that your teeth can’t kill you. In the last few years many scientific studies have been conducted and have shown very clearly the correlation between oral health and overall health. American gerontologists found that, with good oral care  and regular dental check-ups, lifespan increases on average 6.4 years.

How can one explain this connection? How is oral care healthy for the entire body? The mouth is the ideal entry point for bacteria. The more bacteria in the mouth, the more chance it has to get to the rest of the body and the easier this is, the more chance of infection. What sort of illnesses? Heart and circulatory illnesses, especially coronary heart disease. There is risk of stroke and also - and this is especially important in people whose health is already compromised - lung disease (COPD).

Furthermore, scientists have concluded that tooth loss has a negative effect on intelligence. They have determined that through mastication (chewing), pressure on the teeth or implants, important motorial areas of the brain are stimulated and have increased blood supply. In tooth loss this stimulus is missing and leads to long-term decreased activity in these brain areas.

Conclusion: Oral health is important not only for your mouth, but for your entire body - at any age!

Our dentists in Frankfurt Höchst: Dr. Anand G. Leick is an active member of the German Society for Geriatric Dentistry (Deutschen Gesellschaft für Alterszahnmedizin, DGAZ) and has a subspecialty in geriatric dentistry certified by the Hessen Dental Association (Landeszahnärztekammer Hessen). He is a specialist in oral surgery and implantology and specializes in the restoration of chewing function through implants. Dr. Nicole Leick is a dentist and certified periodontologist, has a subspecialty in aesthetic dentistry and periodonty certified by the Hessen Dental Association (Landeszahnärztekammer Hessen) and focuses on tooth preservation in Leick & Leick Dentistry in Frankfurt Höchst. Both doctors have vast experience in the care of patients in care levels I - III, serve a disabled workshop and nursing and rest homes in the Rhein-Main area, and hold regular training courses for nursing staff to improve dental hygiene in the elderly.