Dental problems are not something that goes away as you get older. In fact, as you age your chances of developing gum or teeth problems increase. These problems can have an adverse effect not only on your oral health, self-esteem, and appearance but your overall health.
Learning about what dental problems elderly individuals face can help both you and your loved ones.
Increased Risk of Cavities and Tooth Decay
Seniors are at an increased risk of developing tooth decay and cavities. The risk is increased because many seniors don’t have access to affordable dental care, have difficulty getting to appointments, or have health issues that may cause them to miss appointments.
Failure to treat tooth decay and cavities can lead to severe dental problems such as gingivitis, tooth loss, infection, and bone loss. It can also cause gum inflammation which can increase your chances of developing diabetes and heart problems such as strokes or heart attacks.
Teeth Become More Sensitive Over Time
Gum recession is a natural part of the aging process. Unfortunately, as your gums recess, it can cause your teeth to become more sensitive. Sensitivity is increased because parts of your teeth that were protected by the gum are now exposed. Those parts, because they were surrounded by the gum, do not have strong enamel to protect them which increases your chance of experiencing sharp pain or numbness.
Tooth sensitivity can be triggered when you eat certain foods, such as candy or fruit, cold or hot drinks, or even exposure to cold air.
Dry Mouth can Damage Your Teeth
Seniors often experience dry mouth. Dry mouth is a decreased production of saliva which leads to the gums, teeth, and throat becoming extremely dry. Dry mouth can occur as a natural part of the aging process, because of something you ate or drink, or because of medications you are taking.
While it might not sound like a big deal, dry mouth can cause numerous severe problems if it is not properly treated. If left untreated dry mouth can remove all natural moisture from your teeth’s enamel which leads to an increased risk of damaging your teeth. Teeth that are not properly moisturized can easily chip, crack or fracture.
Replacing Teeth with Dentures or Implants Still Places You at Risk for Tooth Decay and Other Dental Problems
Many elderly people have chosen to have their natural teeth replaced with dentures, implants, bridges, and crowns. Just because their teeth are replaced with these dental appliances doesn’t mean there is no longer a risk of developing tooth decay or other gum problems.
Bacteria can still gather around the dentures or implants. If left in the mouth, the bacteria can cause gum inflammation and infection.
Tips to Help Elderly Individuals Improve Their Oral Health
While the bad news is there are numerous dental problems that occur as you age, the good news is most – if not all – can be easily prevented. By following these helpful tips, you can improve your oral health as you age:
- Schedule regular appointments with your dentist for a routine exam
- Schedule an appointment should any problems occur in between appointments for routine exams
- Notify your dentist of any health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, you may be experiencing. Dentists can tailor your dental care so any complications that may arise from these health problems are addressed.
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss at least once a day
- Follow through with all recommended treatment options provided by your dentist
- Regularly schedule doctor appointments to have various health problems addressed. Some health problems increase your risk for gum and tooth problems, so it is important you not only seek care for dental problems but general health problems, too.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Stay informed about what medications you are taking and know if any may cause dry mouth
Are you looking for a dentist that is experienced in providing care to seniors? If so, contact Cocoa Beach Family Dentistry. Our staff is experienced in providing comprehensive dental care to patients of all ages. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a routine cleaning and dental examination or to discuss any concerns you may have about your oral health.