Senior Dentistry

Lansing’s Trusted Senior Dentistry

As the senior population continues to grow in the United States, the need for geriatric dental care has become an increasingly imperative issue. At Bechtel Dentistry, we are proud to be part of the mission of providing high-quality dental health services for the older adults in our community, treating all our senior patients with respect, kindness, and a gentle touch. Our dental office has been Lansing’s trusted dentistry for the past several years, operating with a holistic mindset that places an emphasis on long-term care for seniors, minimally invasive procedures, and preventative treatment.

Misconceptions About Dental Health in Seniors

There are many myths about senior dentistry that have caused an alarming amount of seniors in our country to have failed to receive proper oral health care. Many people believe that common dental concerns for seniors like gum disease and tooth decay are inevitable with age, but this simply is not true. Even with age, many of these ailments can be avoided with the proper routine care and treatment.


Common Dental Concerns for Seniors

At Bechtel Dentistry, we are very familiar with the common dental concerns that seniors face. The skill and knowledge of our staff give us the ability to provide our geriatric patients with excellent care and service. Many senior residents in Lansing and the nearby areas visit our dental office for treatment regarding:

Periodontal disease – an infectious disease that affects the gums and structures of the mouth supporting the teeth

Root cavities – decay in the root of the tooth as a result of gum recession caused by harmful bacteria

Poor-fitting dentures – dentures that become loose or cause pain or discomfort as a result of a shrunken jaw or gums

Oral systemic health considerations– chronic infections in the mouth or dental disease that lead to the impairment of other systems and organs in the body


Malnutrition Considerations from Lansing Dentist Dr. Bechtel

I often say that dentures are not a replacement for teeth, they are a replacement for no teeth. The problem with dentures is that you are adding two large pieces of plastic that move around in place of 32 separate fixed, individualized, specialized chewing devices. When those chewing devices, aka teeth, are lost the bone support that surrounded them resorbs away. Dentures will never be as good as what the good Lord gave you at birth. Dentures made to fit the jawbone initially, in time tend to not fit as well, because the jawbone shrinks and remodels. They begin to slip and wearers end up retraining muscles in the mouth to compensate for this.

When they fit properly, dentures have only 1/6th of the chewing power that natural teeth have. To be honest with you, most denture patients that I have seen do not have properly fitting dentures. It is not a badge of honor or courage to have a set of dentures that is 10–20 years old. How many pairs of shoes do you have that you have worn daily for 10-20 years? So what typically happens in patients with dentures, is that their dentures dictate what they can eat and what they cannot eat. Foods that are too hard to eat are avoided and then there is a psychological component of embarrassment that denture wearers may have, not wanting to be seen having problems chewing or eating their foods.

Nutrition becomes more critical as we get older and most nutritious foods are in the produce aisles of the grocery stores and not all the other isles filled with premade over-processed foods. These all tend to be high in sugar, sodium, fat, or have ingredients in them that you cannot even pronounce. None of this is healthy for you! These processed foods tend to be easier to eat.

Fortunately, if you have lost your natural teeth, you no longer have to be condemned to wear a denture for the rest of your life. If you have a denture you always have the option to upgrade! Dental implants, which are anchored into the jawbone, can bridge that gap. Now we have many implant-supported denture options that vastly improve the retention, fit, and chewing power of a denture and allow you to get back to a more natural diet.

Let Us Take a Look At Heart Disease

Heart disease medically is defined as any condition of the heart or vessels around the heart that impairs function to the heart. This includes arrhythmia, vascular disease, angina, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, valve disease, myocardial infarction, and ischemic stroke. Today, heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States and the #1 killer of women. Half of those who die from heart disease had no signs or symptoms and their cholesterol levels were normal. Usually, when a physician sees disease in the coronary arteries, it is already advanced and generalized throughout the body.

The mouth, and in particular the gum tissue is highly vascularized and bacteria have easy access to it. Bacteria live under the gum tissue as plaque surrounding our teeth. As the diagram below shows, bacteria, once in the bloodstream, invade the endothelium, the inner layer of blood vessels, causing them to be inflamed. In time this, through a series of events, weakens the blood vessel walls allowing plaques (lipids) to buildup. This can lead to the rupture of the wall, which in turn causes a clot to form. This can cause either block the vessel or dislodge from the wall leading to a heart attack or a stroke.

Respiratory Implications

Elderly patients can suffer from a weakened immune system or have respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Emphysema. The saliva in your mouth can contain thousands of bacteria. Some of the bacteria in the gums can adhere to the droplets of water in the air you inhale and exhale when you breathe. These pathogen laden droplets of water can be aspirated into the lungs, causing pneumonia or other pulmonary infections. Cytokines, are inflammatory mediators found in the gums that can also be aspirated into the lungs causing inflammation and breathing complications.

Senior Dentistry with Dr. Bechtel

As a senior patient at Bechtel Dentistry, your comfort is our top priority. We work hard to make sure that our senior patients feel relaxed and welcomed during their dental appointment and attend to their needs with genuine compassion and concern. We understand that a trip to the dentist can invoke feelings of worry and anxiety for many elderly patients and try our best to make that they feel at home during their visit. At Bechtel Dentistry, our senior patients are much more than just our customers; they’re part of our extended family.


Schedule Your Dental Appointment Today!

Dr. Bechtel and our Lansing, Michigan dental team are committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. If you have any questions about our senior dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to contact us at 517-882-7132. Our holistic dentistry offers comprehensive treatments that promote overall wellness for our patients living throughout Lansing, Holt, Okemos, Mason, Grand Ledge, Dewitt, Haslett, Williamston, St. Johns, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, East Lansing, and Potterville.