Seniors are special people — and they have unique oral care needs that are different from younger patients. It’s a Golden Age, and that’s why we offer special care that’s highly sensitive to your needs and concerns. Relax! You’re in good hands. Geriatric oral surgery is one of Dr. Puckett’s specializations, because different times of life require different types of care.
In our younger years, oral health and surgical procedures focus on prevention and maintenance. But in our later years, we tend to have more issues with the boney tissues in our bodies, especially in our joints and our jaws. Geriatric oral surgery is a different kind of oral surgery – different techniques, different sedation dentistry, different goals.
Aging Bones, Aging Bodies & Oral Surgery in Elderly Patients
Some of the most common degenerative issues our senior patients have are arthritis and osteoporosis. Both of these conditions can have profound impacts on the bones and joints of the jaw. Plus, decades of eating, smiling, and just plain living have given those chompers a run around the block. Seniors often face this difficult combination of a biological increase in wear of teeth and gums as the tissues weaken, overloading the mechanical wear of day-to-day living. It happens to all of us – one day we’re 30, and then the next we’re 70, wondering when we got so old.
Because the body is starting to wear down, there’s often more prep work involved for geriatric oral surgeries, and the restorative processes are often longer-term, as healing time is slower and not as virulent. Senior patients may have issues with their gum lines like gum recession or gingivitis. Tooth loss may be visible, as people become more susceptible to tooth decay and tooth loss with age.
Our Approach to Geriatric Dentistry & Oral Surgery
Often, our elderly patients require tooth replacement options such as dental implants or dentures. They may require soft tissue grafting for recessed gums. They may even require a dental bone graft or full mouth reconstruction. Or, if they have been injured, they may require a facial trauma surgeon, because as we age our bones become more brittle and more susceptible to injury, wear and damage.
As a highly qualified maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Puckett has been in practice for over 17 years. He has developed a highly sensitive, gentle and specialized approach to geriatric oral surgery to address the needs of seniors. Dr. Puckett does all forms of oral surgery, including soft tissue grafting, dental bone grafting, dental implant surgery, full mouth reconstruction, and tooth replacement. He is a specialized facial trauma surgeon, certified in all forms of sedation for oral surgery, including general anesthesia, which requires extreme care and attention in elderly patients.
Wilmington Oral Surgery: A Gentler Approach to Anesthesia
Understandably, our older patients have special concerns when it comes to anesthesia and other complex health issues. You want to feel relaxed and comfortable during your oral surgery experience, but you also want to be safe. Anesthesia poses different risks to seniors than it does to younger people. Namely, the stress it puts on the heart is a big factor in if and for how long a geriatric patient can be put to sleep for a surgery.
Fortunately, Dr. Puckett has extensive training in all types of anesthesia sedation for oral surgery. He’ll be able to address your concerns and explain his approach. We strive to maintain a comfortable, relaxing experience that’s also safe, no matter your health concerns. We’re experienced at treating older patients with all types of health issues. It’s important to us that any mouth surgery you might require is tailored to your exact needs, health conditions or limitations and, of course, your preferences. Everyone deserves a beautiful smile and a healthy jaw, at every age.
Do You Experience Anxiety About Oral Surgery?
Feeling some fear and anxiety at any age is natural when you’re in a dental chair. These fears become more pressing when the treatment involves oral surgery, and understandably even more of a concern if you are an older patient. That’s why we like to walk you through the process and address any questions or concerns you might have. Often, knowing exactly what’s going to happen alleviates a lot of anxiety on surgery day.
We use the latest advancements in technology when it comes to pain management, and offer several types of sedation for oral surgery that range from aiding your ability to relax during the procedure, to complete unconsciousness during your surgery. Dr. Puckett is licensed to administer all types of sedation for oral surgery, and he’s also built his practice around providing oral surgery services to geriatric patients that is as holistic, restorative, and least-invasive as possible.
Protecting the Health of the Jaw Bone in our Senior Patients
As an older patient, you may have advanced needs when it comes to jaw bone health. This can be impacted by your overall dental care, bone density issues, as well as missing teeth. As we age, the health of our bones declines. Dr. Puckett understands this issue intimately. A patient’s jaw bone health affects our approach to treatment. Rest assured, we will come up with the best approach to address your oral health issues while optimizing the health of the jaw bone.
We use the latest methods for procedures like dental bone grafting and dental implant surgery for holistic tooth replacement; mouth reconstruction that helps our patients’ bodies regenerate healthy bone tissue in the jaw. Often, even jaws with compromised health can be built back up with the help of dental bone grafting. This is often how we get our elderly patients ready for dental implant surgery.
Dealing with Dental Implant Surgery in Elderly Patients
With dental implants, your bones heal around the artificial roots, essentially replacing the entire structure of the tooth. Dental implants are superior to dentures in full mouth reconstruction, because the roots of your teeth actually hold your jawbone in place and keep the jaw from deteriorating. With an holistic tooth replacement like dental implants, we can not only stop, but help to reverse bone loss in the jawbone, preserving and restoring the health of your smile.
Most dental implants are made with titanium roots, because titanium is very biocompatible, and even people with immune system issues and conditions typically respond well to them. But for those with worse immune systems or metal allergies, we also offer zirconia dental implants, which are technically a ceramic dental implant, eliminating the risk of an adverse reaction to metal.
Sometimes, even with dental bone grafting, there is simply not enough jawbone integrity to take traditional dental implants. But don’t worry; we offer other permanent tooth replacement options for our geriatric patients that go far beyond the capabilities of traditional dentures:
Subperiosteal dental implants: These implants sit deep in the gums but on and not in the jaw bone. When properly anchored with other teeth, it looks and acts just like your normal tooth, and can last for a decade or more if properly cared for.
Zygomatic dental implants: These implants are to replace teeth in the top of the mouth. The most common way we use zygomatic implants in our elderly patients is to install permanent dentures. In this procedure, 4 anchor implants are installed up in the cheek bones, where the bone is dense enough that osseointegration isn’t needed at the level it is for regular implants.
There are also options like implant-anchored and tooth-anchored bridges for patients who have other healthy teeth that can serve as anchors. With the thorough and skilled care of the staff at Wilmington Oral Surgery, we can offer our elderly population affordable, comprehensive mouth restoration.
Geriatric Oral Treatment Options from an Expert Maxillofacial Surgeon
We use a number of oral surgery approaches when it comes to the treatment of our seniors. This can include the dental implant options we just discussed, as well as various types of bridges and dentures. We can also do dental bonding on chipped teeth to improve the appearance of the smile. For advanced tooth loss, we can even do full mouth restoration for a beautiful smile you’ll be happy to share with others.
If you’ve got the time and the patience, we’ve got the skill and the resources to help you rewind the age of your smile by decades, and improve your long-term oral health in the process. With the help of Dr. Puckett and his skilled staff, we can keep your smile looking healthy well into old age.
If your dentist has recommended tooth replacement, or you’re not happy with the current state of your mouth, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with our oral surgeon, Dr. Puckett. What type of geriatric oral surgery might be right for restoring your smile?