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Elderly Gum Disease: Causes, Repercussions & Solutions

At WeSmile Dental Care, we understand the importance of maintaining oral health at every stage of life. For the elderly, proper dental care is crucial in preserving their overall health and well-being. One common issue that affects many seniors is gum disease. This page will help you understand the causes, repercussions, and solutions for gum disease in the elderly, and how WeSmile Dental Care can provide well-rounded care for your loved ones.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums that can lead to significant dental and health problems if left untreated.

It starts with plaque buildup on the teeth, which can harden into tartar if not properly cleaned. This can cause inflammation and infection in the gums, leading to symptoms like swelling, bleeding, and, in severe cases, tooth loss.

Why are the elderly more likely to experience gum disease?

As we age, several factors increase the risk of developing gum disease. Understanding these factors can help in early detection and prevention.

Over time, gums can naturally recede, exposing more of the tooth and its root. This creates pockets where bacteria can accumulate, leading to infection.

The mouth is home to millions of bacteria. Without regular dental care, these bacteria can proliferate, causing gum infections and other dental issues.

Ageing slows down the body’s ability to regenerate cells, including those in the gums. This makes it harder for the gums to heal from injuries or infections.

The immune system weakens with age, making it more difficult to fight off infections, including those affecting the gums.

Many elderly individuals may neglect regular dental check-ups due to mobility issues, cognitive decline, or financial constraints. Regular check-ups are essential for preventing and managing gum disease.

Conditions such as diabetes can exacerbate gum disease. Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to resist infections, making the gums more vulnerable to bacterial infections.

Understanding these factors can help in taking proactive measures to maintain oral health and address gum disease effectively.

What are the gum disease symptoms to look out for?

It’s important to recognise the signs of gum disease early to seek prompt treatment. Look out for:

Healthy gums should be pink and firm. If you notice that your loved one’s gums are red, swollen, or tender to the touch, it could be a sign of inflammation caused by gum disease. This inflammation is a response to bacterial infection and can progress if not addressed promptly.

Gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing, are a common early symptom of gum disease. This bleeding occurs because the gums are inflamed and more sensitive due to the presence of bacteria and plaque buildup. Regular bleeding is a warning sign that professional dental care is needed.

Bad breath, or halitosis, that doesn’t go away after brushing and using mouthwash may indicate gum disease. The bacteria causing gum disease release toxins that contribute to foul-smelling breath. Persistent bad breath is not only socially uncomfortable but also a potential sign of deeper oral health issues.

Gum recession, where the gums pull away from the teeth, is a significant symptom of gum disease. Receding gums expose more of the tooth and its root, making it easier for bacteria to accumulate and cause further damage. This can also lead to increased tooth sensitivity.

As gum disease progresses, it can destroy the supporting structures around the teeth, including the bones and ligaments. This can cause teeth to become loose or shift in position. Noticeable changes in the way teeth fit together when biting or the appearance of gaps between teeth should prompt immediate dental consultation.

Pain or discomfort while chewing can be a sign of advanced gum disease. This pain may result from the infection affecting the underlying bone and tissues supporting the teeth. Chewing difficulties can also impact nutrition and overall quality of life, making it essential to address the problem as soon as possible.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your elderly loved ones, it’s crucial to seek professional dental care immediately. Early intervention can prevent the progression of gum disease and help maintain their oral and overall health.

At WeSmile Dental Care, our team is equipped to provide the specialised care needed to manage and treat gum disease in seniors effectively.

What gum disease treatment is best for the elderly?

Treating gum disease in the elderly requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach. At WeSmile Dental Care, we offer a range of non-surgical and surgical treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of senior patients. Here’s an overview of the best treatment options:

Non-surgical gum disease treatments

Scaling & Polishing

This routine procedure involves cleaning the teeth to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. Regular scaling and polishing can prevent the progression of gum disease and maintain healthy gums.

Root Planing

Root planing is a deeper cleaning procedure that smooths the roots of the teeth, removing bacteria and toxins that contribute to gum disease. This treatment helps gums to reattach to the teeth, reducing pockets where bacteria can thrive.

surgical gum disease treatments

Flap Surgery

For more advanced gum disease, flap surgery may be necessary. This procedure involves lifting the gums to remove tartar buildup in deep pockets, then securing the gums back in place to fit snugly around the teeth, reducing the pocket depth and preventing further infection.

Bone Graft

When gum disease has destroyed the bone surrounding the teeth, a bone graft can help regenerate lost bone. This involves transplanting bone material to the affected area, providing a stable foundation for the teeth and supporting new bone growth.

Soft Tissue Graft

Receding gums can be treated with a soft tissue graft, where tissue from another part of the mouth is grafted onto the affected gums. This procedure covers exposed roots, reduces sensitivity, and improves the appearance of the gums.

Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR)

GTR is a technique used to promote the growth of new bone and tissue. A special membrane is placed between the bone and gum tissue, preventing unwanted tissue from entering the healing area and allowing new bone and tissue to grow back properly.

At WeSmile Dental Care, we ensure that all treatments are conducted with the utmost care, prioritising comfort and effectiveness. Our experienced dental team is dedicated to providing personalised care plans that address the specific needs of elderly patients, helping them maintain healthy gums and a higher quality of life.

Cost of gum disease treatment in Singapore

The cost of treating gum disease varies based on the severity of the condition and the specific treatments required. At WeSmile Dental Care, we strive to provide affordable, transparent pricing and exploring financial support options to ensure that individuals can access the dental care they need without financial burden.

Here’s a breakdown of our gum disease treatment prices (inclusive of GST):

From

Financial support options for the elderly

Both Medisave and the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) in Singapore may offer subsidies or coverage for selected dental procedures, particularly for eligible seniors.

CHAS

CHAS

CHAS benefits are tiered depending on both the household monthly income per person, and the Annual Value of your home. To understand your eligibility, refer to the CHAS website.

Based on the CHAS card that you hold, the subsidies for applicable dental treatments are summarized in this table.

Medisave

Medisave

For Singaporeans and PRs, a portion of surgical expenses may be claimed from your Medisave. Drop our clinics a call to understand if your treatment can be claimed from Medisave.

Insurance Coverage

Some insurance packages in Singapore may include coverage for gum treatment, providing financial assistance for eligible individuals. It's advisable to check with your insurance provider regarding coverage details and requirements.

KGC

Selecting the right dentist for your elderly loved one is crucial.

About our geriatric dentistry expert – Dr. Khor Guan Chiang

Dr. Khor is experienced with geriatric dentistry and is adept at addressing common dental issues faced by seniors, including dentures, gum disease, and identifying the root cause of concerns for long-term care. With a gentle and non-pushy approach, he creates a comfortable environment for seniors, ensuring they feel at ease during visits. Dr. Khor’s multilingual skills facilitate effective communication with diverse patients, fostering trust and understanding.

With a commitment to personalised care and enhancing oral health, Dr. Khor is dedicated to providing seniors with a positive and empowering dental experience. Read more about him here.

Our Dental Care Quality Assurance Programme

To ensure that your oral health is well taken care of, we offer a Dental Care Quality Assurance Programme for specific procedures, including dentures and implants, performed at any of our dental clinics.

Here’s what is covered under our Dental Care Quality Assurance Programme.