Your golden years should be spent pursuing what makes you happy – not sitting in the dentist’s office. But for many seniors, their lives become more complicated as their dental health falters. Certain health changes take hold that lead to a higher risk of periodontal disease, cavities, oral cancer, and other pressing concerns. But being aware of your best approach to ongoing health can help you avoid these obstacles.
Common Dental Problems for Aging Teeth
- Dry mouth – Our saliva has a cleansing and health-boosting effect on our teeth and gums. It’s vital to have enough saliva present at all times to rinse away acids and protect your smile. Unfortunately, many medications commonly taken later in life have dry mouth as a side effect. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Parkinson’s, Alzeimer’s, or chronic pain, check with your doctor to see how your medication might impact your oral health. Always let your dentist know if you start a new medication. We’ll recommend an oral moisturizer, drinking additional water, or chewing sugar-free gum. We may also place sealants on your teeth to protect them.
- Cavities – Natural thinning of the enamel takes place as we age. This means that teeth have lower defenses and it’s easier for cavities to form. Be sure to use fluoride toothpaste to remineralize enamel, eat low-sugar foods, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Gum disease – Plaque buildup is the primary cause of gum disease, as the bacteria and acids irritate the gums. This often occurs as we age and oral hygiene becomes more difficult due to arthritis or other mobility issues. If inflamed gums and excessive plaque persist, periodontal disease will develop. Periodontitis is the #1 cause of tooth loss, which we strive to prevent for all our patients, no matter their age. Schedule regular exams so that we can monitor your gums and catch gingivitis early.
- Oral cancer – Like many health conditions, oral cancer is typically diagnosed after the age of 60. Older individuals are at a heightened risk of developing cancerous tissues in the mouth, tongue, or throat. We screen for oral cancer at each of your dental exams, so you should visit regularly to catch any issues early on.
- Lack of dental insurance – Many retirement insurance plans don’t include dental insurance, making it difficult to receive regular exams. If you’re looking for financing or insurance options, let us know so that we can help.
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