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Health Q&A

Posted November 07, 2012 in Advice Column, Des Moines West

Q: My dad seems to struggle to engage sometimes. How can I make the holidays as enjoyable for him as possible?

A: Holidays can be just as exciting for seniors as they are for the kiddos.  There are some considerations that might help maximize the events for your favorite seniors.
• Consider what time of day your dad is at his best, and plan your major events for that time
• Many seniors can have difficulty hearing in a room full of other voices. Place them next to the people they are likely to converse with the most. Consider suggesting family members visit with your dad in groups of one or two for a higher quality conversation for both parties.
• If there are memory challenges casually use family member names often or consider nametags to help cue your dad. Old memories are a safe topic of conversation and can provide lively conversation.
• Consider any financial concerns that your dad may be having. If the prospect of affording holiday gifts is daunting, suggest a way for him to still be able to give without a big financial commitment.
• Involve your dad in the holiday preparation. Anticipation is half the fun. This is often done in smaller groups which allows for greater quality interaction. When you help prepare you are invested in the outcome.

Information provided by Anne Peters, Home Instead Senior Care®, 221-0866.

Q: What is trench mouth?

A: Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, or trench mouth¸ is a painful form of gum disease that includes the destruction of gum tissue around the teeth and creation of crater-like ulcers in the gum that are filled with plaque and food debris. Other symptoms are a grayish film on the gums and a constant foul taste and breath. It is a rare disorder, brought on or exacerbated by factors including poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, other infections in the mouth or throat, smoking and stress. The term “trench mouth” came from the condition’s prevalence among soldiers in World War I.

Your dentist may recommend a salt-water rinse to soothe sore gums and hydrogen peroxide rinse to wash away decayed gum tissue. If fever accompanies your condition, the dentist may also prescribe an antibiotic. The good news is that the condition normally responds well to treatment. Left untreated, though, the infection can spread to other parts of the mouth and jaw. Talk with your dentist about ways to keep your mouth healthy.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

Q: How can I get the best results from dental treatment?

A: Dental professionals have learned, through science, research and technology, that when patients are looking to improve their health and appearance, it’s essential for them to know what led to the current conditions in their mouths, as those factors can have a significant impact on the success of their treatment. In order to create a foundation for future health as well as a beautiful new smile, your susceptibility to dental problems must be identified and managed as a team effort.

It is important for you and your dentist to have realistic expectations about what dentistry can and can’t do. Successful results ultimately depend upon an analysis of all the factors that have made you “you,” dentally speaking. This includes your experience of tooth decay, gum disease and bite or chewing problems. This type of analysis creates a basis for predicting successful treatment, both with and without dental care. Based on your unique diagnosis, a plan of action can be developed to correct or at least manage those factors that can interfere with the success of your treatment.

A plan for positive change should lay out what you can expect, detail how risk factors have contributed to your current condition, suggest changes that would benefit you going forward, and help determine how you will look and function after treatment.

Predictable success really is the name of the game. When your dentist considers your individual risk factors for disease, he or she is better able to advise you about dental treatment and safeguard your health. Hopefully, this understanding will allow you to change or modify behaviors so that your dental treatment will be more successful and you will achieve lasting health.

Information from Dear Doctor magazine, provided by Dr. Dennis Winter, Iowa Dental Arts, P.C., 2901 Beaver Ave., 277-6657.

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