Common Dental Problems in the Elderly
Most people lose at least one tooth by the time they are seniors. In fact, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that 3.75 percent of adults aged 20-64 have no remaining natural teeth!
But this needn’t happen to you when you reach your Golden Years.
Some seniors think that one good thing about getting older (among many others) is the fact that they don’t need to worry about cavities anymore.
If only it were so.
Adults of any age can still get cavities and, in fact, cavities may be more frequent in older adults due to the fact that older fillings may decay. In addition, cavities in the tooth’s root are more common in older adults because gum tissue starts to recede, opening up the root to decay.
Common conditions that crop up due to the aging process such as dry mouth (in which your mouth excretes less saliva, allowing food particles and acids to remain on your teeth longer), also can lead to cavities.
In addition, our gums tend to recede with age, providing more exposure to a tooth’s root, thereby leaving it more prone to sensitivity to both hot and cold food temperatures.
To “sweeten” the news even more, receding gums can also mean loose teeth: as the gums recede, the tooth roots have little to support them. Extreme gum loss could mean the loss of one or more teeth.
The risk of oral cancer also increases as we age. Most frequently found in smokers, oral cancer also can present itself in those who drink alcohol. Long-term smokers and heavy drinkers are at greater risk if they’ve smoked/imbibed heavily for years.
Seniors with dentures may find that the false teeth aren’t as comfortable as they once were; age changes our gums as well as the bones of our teeth, possibly causing dentures to feel looser.
Many of us take more OTC and prescription medications as we get older and these could adversely affect your oral health. Whenever you visit your dentist, bring a list of medications, OTC products and even herbal supplements you’re taking so that your Plano dentist can update your files and stay abreast of your prescriptions and keep an eye on any oral side effects they may present.
Many seniors have arthritis, which can make proper brushing and flossing problematic Consider getting a larger toothbrush. Use flossing sticks for easier maneuverability around your mouth and teeth when you floss.
No matter your age, taking proper care of your teeth is important throughout your life. If you haven’t had a dental check up in a while, contact Plano dentist Dr. Dickson to schedule an appointment. You also may send us an e-mail message at [email protected].