Thursday, April 2, 2009

What Do We Need Spit For Anyway? -- Dr. Judith Okun Explains

This past week, Dr. Okun attended a lecture entitled “Clinical Pearls for Treating Older Patients” by Dr. Randy Huffines. One of the biggest issues with sickly and elderly patients is that they have decreased salivary flow (i.e. spit). Saliva is necessary to start the digestion of our food, but is also necessary to buffer acids in the mouth and keep minerals in our teeth. With poor quality saliva, or too little saliva, we not only have that uncomfortable dry-mouth feeling, but we also get MANY MORE cavities.

Why does an orthodontist need to know about treating older patients? Many more adults are wearing braces than ever before. Many of them want to achieve that smile they never had when they were young. Many of them were told by their dentists that they need to align their teeth in order make it possible to restore their broken- down teeth or replace their missing teeth. Some have even come to us because their improper bites are causing them pain. Okun Orthodontics attracts many adults seeking braces because we have individual treatment rooms for all of our procedures. This enables all of our patients, no matter how young or how old, to have the privacy they deserve at each visit.

What can we do for patients at increased risk for cavities? (This includes both the elderly as well as the young who have difficulty keeping their teeth clean.) We can show you how to clean around the braces with special aids like inter-proximal tooth brushes (mini-bottle brushes for cleaning teeth) and floss- threaders. (We often recommend that you have someone help you clean your teeth if you are not able to clean them well by yourself.) We also can provide you with MI Paste- a dentist supplied topical crème with calcium phosphate and fluoride that can strengthen your teeth and decrease your cavity-risk. Of course, we also recommend that you get more frequent dental cleanings so that both the gum disease and cavities are minimized.

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