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Dentists have been leaders in the field of anesthesia since the 1800s. In 1846, Dr. William Morton was the first doctor to extract a tooth using ether as a general anesthetic. Since then, anesthesia has come a long way. Before general anesthesia existed, people would routinely undergo surgery until they lost consciousness from the pain. Happily, today's methods of anesthesia are very effective.

Local anesthesia is the most common form of anesthesia used in dentistry. For many procedures, the dentist injects a local anesthetic into the area that needs to be numbed. This is called an infiltration injection. Sometimes the injection is done to numb a large area, away from where the injection is given. This is called regional anesthesia or a "block."

Some research has focused on giving local anesthetics without needles. These systems aren't popular yet, but they are promising. One system consists of a patch applied to the gum. The patch contains a local anesthetic. The drug enters the skin directly. After the patch is removed, a dentist can give a virtually painless injection at that spot or perform certain dental procedures without having to give an injection. This can be useful for a small filling or a deep cleaning of the gums.

Occasionally, people will not get numb after receiving the usual injection of local anesthetic. Instead, they can receive another type of shot. This is called an intra-osseous injection. A tiny drill makes a hole in the gum. Then, a needle is inserted into the jawbone. Anesthetic is injected into the bone.

This type of anesthesia is somewhat uncomfortable to receive. It is not commonly used. It is typically used in the lower jaw. It might not numb the gum tissue well enough to be used for removing teeth, but it can be used for fillings and root canals.

THE MAGIC WAND : Latest Painfree injection method is known as "the wand." It uses a computer-controlled delivery system. The source of most discomfort from local anesthesia injections is not the needle. It is the flow of the anesthetic into the tissues of the mouth. The wand controls the flow. This allows the correct amount of anesthetic to be delivered at a painless rate.

The wand does not look like a a needle at all, but just like a pen. It is a great method to deliver Painfree injections.

Ask YOUR DENTIST if he is a Pain-Free Magic Wand Dentist !!

SEDATION : Besides local anesthesia, various medicines may be used to reduce anxiety. This is commonly called conscious sedation. It is useful for people who are fearful or anxious. Sedative drugs may reduce anxiety and fear so that people can have dental treatment. They also can cause short-term memory loss, so people don't remember most of the procedure.

Sedatives come in various forms. Nitrous oxide is an odorless gas (commonly called "laughing gas"). Some sedatives may come in pill or liquid form. Others are intravenous medicines, meaning they are injected into a vein.

Dentists who provide sedation to their patients must be specially trained. They must have specific types of training and experience in order to provide different types and levels of sedation. Almost every state has laws and rules about this.

Oral and maxillo-facial surgeons learn to provide sedation, up to and including general anesthesia, as part of their hospital training. Dental anesthesiologists also receive this training. They are dentists who have completed a two-year residency in anesthesia. Some general dentists learn about sedation as part of their hospital training. Others take courses in sedation after they graduate from dental school.

Most dentists are not trained in sedation. Ask your dentist about his or her training and experience in sedation and anesthesia.

Diet and Oral health

Eating right is especially important for older people. That’s because poor nutrition can contribute to a decline in health. People in poor health are less likely to eat well. So are people with mouth or teeth problems. A vicious circle can result. This can have serious health consequences. Older people who live in nursing homes may be at a particular risk of developing vitamin deficiencies. They also may have more oral health problems.

People who wear dentures may not be able to chew well. They may lean toward soft diets. These diets often contain a lot of carbohydrates and not much nutrition.

Oral Concerns of Older Adults

Many older adults have mouth or teeth problems that make them less likely to consume a healthy diet.

Physical factors include:

  • Changes in chewing ability
  • Dry mouth (usually a side effect of medicine)
  • Changes in taste and smell
  • Slowing of metabolism and activity level
  • Reduction in nutrient absorption (sometimes caused by medicine)
  • Changes in eyesight and hearing
  • Physical disabilities
  • Untreated tooth decay
  • Loose teeth
  • Missing teeth that haven’t been replaced with bridges, dentures or implants
  • Ill-fitting bridges or dentures

Regular dental care can improve or prevent many of these problems. However, many older people do not visit a dentist regularly.

Other Reasons for a Poor Diet

Many seniors lead a healthy, active life. Others may be isolated or lack the resources to live well. These problems can lead to a poor diet, which can cause physical problems. Factors that increase the risk of a poor diet include:

  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Depression
  • Low income
  • Changes in living arrangements
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug/nutrient interactions
  • Improper use of nutritional supplements

Eating a Healthy Diet

Here are some suggestions to help you eat an adequate diet even if you are having health problems.

If you have problems chewing, you can:

  • Chop, grind or puree meats.
  • Use canned, sugar-free fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook fresh vegetables to make them softer.
  • Eat softer breads and pasta.

If you have dry mouth, you can:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Suck on sugarless candies.
  • Talk to your dentist or doctor about saliva supplements.
  • Ask your doctor if you can use another medicine that may not cause dry mouth.

If you have a diminished or altered sense of taste, you can:

  • Add spices to your food.
  • Try flavored dairy products (such as yogurt).
  • Eat whole-grain breads and raw vegetables (they have more flavor).

If you have arthritis or a physical disability, you can:

  • Eat plenty of stews, soups and applesauce.
  • Eat tender meats or have your meats pureed.
  • Have your fruits and vegetables cut into small pieces.

Preventative care for seniors

While not every age-related oral health concern is entirely preventable, many conditions that become more prevalent with age can be avoided. Consider the following tips for preventative care:

  • Regular brushing and flossing. This isn’t a tip exclusive to seniors; everyone– regardless of age– should brush a minimum of two times a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, flossing should occur at least once a day.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash. Rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day can help prevent the growth of disease-causing micro organisms.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Even with top-notch at-home care, our teeth and gums still need professional cleanings and check-ups. Be sure to visit the dentist twice a year so that any potential problems can be spotted and treated before they become more serious oral health concerns.

For more information about dental care for seniors, contact us today. You only get one set of permanent teeth; allow us to help you take care of them. We look forward to hearing from you!

Visit your dentist if you have mouth pain, missing teeth, ill-fitting dentures or bridges, or other oral problems.

Neglect, Not Age, Leads to Tooth Loss

It is believed that as you get older you’ll lose some of your teeth since you have probably lost some, since older people have bridges, dentures or implants to replace missing teeth and hence it may seem obvious that tooth loss is just another part of aging.

That is a myth. The fact is – It Isnt.

Just as taking care of your body can keep you active, taking care of your teeth can ensure that you keep them. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s no reason for you to lose your teeth.

Regular Dental Visits play an Important part : 

One of the keys to keeping teeth for a lifetime is to visit a dentist regularly. But many older people don’t.

Many older people grew up during a time when preventive dental care was not a concern and some may not realize how important it is. They may believe that toothaches, bleeding gums, loose teeth or mouth pain are just part of getting older. In fact, these can be signs of gum disease, or other problems.

Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are important.

A lack of dental visit can result in untreated tooth decay and gum disease. Both of these can lead to lost teeth. Missing teeth, toothache or mouth pain also can change how and what you eat. This means you may not get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Visiting the dentist is especially important for older people because they may have other medical conditions. These conditions can create dental problems. Hundreds of medicines can cause side effects in your mouth. Some of these, such as dry mouth, can increase the risk of tooth decay or other oral health problems.

Saliva is a natural cavity-fighter. It neutralizes acids produced by bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Saliva helps wash away food and bacteria. It also contains minerals that strengthen teeth. Dry mouth reduces saliva. This makes you more vulnerable to cavities. Dentists can treat dry mouth. They also can prescribe fluoride rinses or gels to help keep teeth strong.

Older people are more likely to get cavities for other reasons, too. Receding gums can allow acids to get to the roots of teeth and cause cavities. Older fillings can break down. This leaves teeth susceptible to decay.

Dental Visits Are for Everyone

People who have lost all of their teeth often think they don’t need to visit the dentist anymore. But most people without teeth have dentures. Regular dental visits will help to keep dentures in good condition and fitting properly. The bone under your gums changes over time. Dentures that fit fine at one visit may need to be replaced or altered at the next visit.

Oral cancer also affects older people, whether or not they have teeth. Each year, about 8,000 Americans die of oral cancer. More than half of these deaths are in people 65 or older. Smoking and alcohol use also increase the risk of oral cancer. If oral cancer is detected early, it can be treated successfully. Avoiding the dentist makes early detection less likely.

What Else Can You Do?

Brushing and flossing are as important as ever for older people. To keep teeth and gums healthy, brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss once a day.

Some older people may have trouble handling a toothbrush or floss because of arthritis, a disability or an illness. Special toothbrushes and floss holders are available. They have been adapted to be easier to hold. Sometimes, an electric toothbrush helps. Your dentist or dental hygienist can help you find alternatives to make the job easier.

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