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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults


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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

Once my children were grown and on their own, I decided it was time to care of me. One of the first things I did was make an appointment with the dentist. I quickly discovered that years of not keeping up with my own dental care had taken a heavy toll on my teeth. Whereas I thought my teeth were just fine, the dentist pointed out several problems that were going to require a lot of work. When talking to friends, I found out that many of them were in the same boat. This blog is for people like me who just did not have time to keep up with their own dental care.

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Pediatric Health Conditions That Can Raise Cavity Risk

Children may be at risk for cavities as a result of poor dental hygiene. While this is the most common cause of carious teeth, preexisting health conditions can also raise the risk. Here are some pediatric health conditions that may predispose your child to cavities, plus what you can do about them.

Juvenile Diabetes

If your child is a diabetic, the dentist may recommend pediatric dental sealants to help prevent cavities. Sealants seal or cover the teeth so that they are less susceptible to bacterial invasion. Diabetes not only raises the risk for wound infections of the skin, but it can also cause fungal and bacterial infections inside the mouth.

If you notice white patches inside your child's mouth, make an appointment with the dentist. These patches may indicate a candida yeast infection which will need to be treated with an anti-fungal medication. Bacterial infections of the gums can also raise the risk for cavities. 

Epilepsy

While seizure disorders such as epilepsy can suppress your child's immune system, leading to infections and cavities, it is the medications used in the treatment of seizures that heighten the risk for cavities even more. Anti-seizure medications can cause gingival hyperplasia, or gum overgrowth. This condition can cause your child's gums to grow out of control, and sometimes the gum tissue grows over the tops of the teeth and in between the teeth.

Gum overgrowth makes it hard to brush and floss effectively, and because of this, oral bacteria can proliferate under overgrown gums, raising the risk for dental abscesses and cavities. If your child suffers from a seizure disorder and takes medications to control seizures, consider pediatric dental sealants to protect the teeth against cavities.

Also, since gingival hyperplasia typically affects those who take large doses of anti-seizure medication, a lower dose may help reverse the condition. It is important to work with both the pediatrician and the dentist if your child develops gingival hyperplasia.

It not only causes severe gum overgrowth and an increased cavity risk, but it can also cause psychological and self-esteem problems with your child, who may be ashamed to smile or interact with his or her classmates for fear of being made fun of.

If your child has juvenile diabetes or epilepsy, see the dentist on a regular basis. When dental and gum problems are recognized and treated early, complications such as abscessed teeth, deep cavities, and severe gum disease are less likely to develop.