Oral Health Conditions
Aging tends to affect the mouth along with the body. Nerves located inside the teeth can narrow, preventing you from feeling cavities. Routine checkups will ensure developing cavities are spotted and treated early so you can keep your teeth healthy without losing them to disease.
Since health issues requiring prescription medications tend to crop up over time, you can end up with dry mouth from a lack of saliva production as a drug’s side effect. Healthy saliva flow is needed to rinse away bacteria and oral debris while neutralizing harmful acids. A chronic dry mouth condition can lead to root and coronal cavities and gum disease. It can be combated by staying hydrated with water while limiting alcohol, sweetened or caffeinated drinks.
Gum disease is more prevalent as you age if you are not practicing good daily oral hygiene. This infection of the gum tissue, which holds the teeth in place, is the most common reason adults lose their teeth, thanks to harmful bacteria prevalent in plaque.
The early stage of gum disease is gingivitis, and you might notice red, swollen, or bleeding gums when you clean your teeth. At this stage, the disease is reversible with daily oral hygiene and professional dental treatment. If you neglect to treat gingivitis, it will only worsen.
The more advanced and severe stage of gingivitis is periodontitis. Unfortunately, it tends to affect over half of adults between 65 and 74. It can lead to the breakdown of the gums and bone material holding the teeth in place. The affected gum tissue can pull back from the teeth, revealing the root surfaces of the tooth. Once the root surfaces of the teeth are exposed because of gum recession, they are now more vulnerable to tooth decay. If enough supportive bone is lost, the tooth will fall out.
Adults over 40 are more susceptible to oral cancer. If you notice patches of red or white on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks, or other oral tissues, you should have an oral cancer check. Oral cancer can often be successfully treated if detected in the early stages.
What You Can Do at Home
- Brush your teeth with an electric or battery-operated toothbrush along with a cavity-fighting toothpaste and oral rinse to protect those pearly whites (this kind of toothbrush is especially useful if you have a condition such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis which prevents ease of movement).
- Floss between teeth with a flossing tool or interdental cleaner/brush to keep teeth and gums healthy.
- Clean full or partial dentures daily and remove them at least four hours a day to let the gums rest.
- Give up tobacco products as they can cause dry mouth, gum disease and tooth decay leading to tooth loss.
- Consume a diet rich in nutrients that support your body, teeth and gums.
- See your dentist regularly to spot developing problems early when they are least invasively treated.
Taking good care of your oral health as you age can help you keep your smile beautiful and strong for a lifetime! Give our team a call if you have any questions or concerns about your teeth and dental health.