Dental Care in Later Life

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By: Nina Mihaychuk, D.M.D.

Various changes take place in our bodily processes as we age. The most common conditions that may develop in our teeth and their sup­porting tissues as we age are:

1) some degree of loss of the sup­porting bone of the teeth 2) decreased elasticity of the gums and soft tissues surrounding the teeth 3) decrease in the flow of saliva and changes in the quality of the saliva, and 4) calcification of the dental pulp (the nerve and blood vessels within a tooth.)

Let us examine each of these pro­cesses. The loss of supporting bone can range from minor to a reduction in tooth mobility. The most common cause of such bone loss is periodontal disease, a chronic inflammation of the gums and supporting tissues. Other factors are generalized sclerotic changes (see below) and changes in calcium metabolism. Changes in calcium metabolism due to systemic illnesses need to be evaluated and treated by a physician. Problems of calcium absorption which are due to ag­ing processes such as hormonal changes and changes in the intestinal lining can be helped with several remedies such as Weleda's Calcon I and II, and Bioforce's Calcium Absorption Formula. When calcium intake is insufficient, supplemen­tation can be helpful, but high amounts can be detrimental.

I prefer supplementation with low levels of calcium such as Gaia Herbs Calcium Supreme Elixir, combined with the aforementioned calcium utilization remedies. Decreased elasticity of the oral tissues manifests as increased thickening and sponginess of the gums and a de­crease in resilient springiness. Delayed healing is also a characteristic of this condition. The elasticity can be im­proved by taking a combination of the cell salts Calcarea Fluorica 12x and Silicea 12x for several months. Another supplement that has had good results is VegeSil made by Flora.

Changes in the salivary flow and quality are more complex. A decrease in saliva flow and mucoid content has been directly correlated to an increased susceptibility to dental caries (decay) . This is especially a problem when bone loss has exposed the softer, more po­rous, root surfaces of the teeth which are much more susceptible to decay. The simplest factor to consider is whether medications which are known to affect the flow of saliva, such as some of the anti-hypertensives, antidepressants, anti­cholinergics and others are being taken. Consultation with a physician can deter­mine if alternative therapies are avail­able. When the reduction in salivary flow is part of a generalized sclerotic process, remedies such as Weleda's Scleron may be indicated, as well as birch leaf teas and syrups.

The last condition, the increased calcification of the dental pulp, is gener­ally a protective process in which the pulp deposits layers of calcific material in response to various irritants. It can also occur as part of the sclerotic pro­cess mentioned above. Calcification of the pulp is not a problem in itself, but can develop into other problems such as asphyxiation and necrosis of the pulp. Also, calcified teeth tend to be less sen­sitive, which can be a problem when there is decay and the usual pain signals are not occurring. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are the best pre­ventative in such cases.


Dr. Nina Mihaychuk received her D.M.D. from Boston University School of Graduate Dentistry in 1985 and completed her specialization in, Endodontics in 1987. She studied for a year at the Sensitive Crys­tallization Research Laboratory at the Go­etheanum in Dornach Switzerland and be­came certified in the Sensitive Crystalliza­tion method of E. Pfeiffer in 1990. In 1990 she also completed the Introduction to Anthroposophical Medicine Training at the Lukas Klinik in Arlesheim Switzerland. She has lectured in the Ukraine on Endodontics at Kiev and Lviv Universities. She divides her time between her alternative healing practice (incorporating several modalities including a vibrational healing method called Quantum Energetics, flower essence therapy, herbal and anthroposophical rem­edies), a part-time endodontic practice, and her husband and young daughter.

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