Aging and Oral Health

Beat Aging as You Grow Older

Aging and Oral HealthLife expectancy in the United States reached record highs in recent years, primarily due to improvements in medical treatments. It’s thus not a surprise that we’re preserving our own teeth longer, too. But it’s not a perfect picture: some older adults find it challenging to maintain a daily oral health program. They often require more complicated dental therapies over time, and are more susceptible to many diseases. Complications in the mouth may cause difficulty with chewing and swallowing, or lead to a loss of confidence due to a change in the facial features or vocal quality. What special dental problems do elderly people face? And what can be done to repair these problems?

Dental Problems of Older Women and Men

Here are just a few special dental problems of adults as they become mature:

  • Cavities: A recent report found that nearly 33% of Americans over the age of 65 had untreated cavities. Such cavities usually cause severe pain, lead to more complicated and expensive therapies, such as root canals, and in the worst case untreated cavities lead to lost teeth.
  • Periodontitis: Now the leading cause of lost teeth in adults, gum disease is a major problem for many elderly people. The cause of gum disease is plaque, the sticky film of dental bacteria that forms on your teeth. Poor dental hygiene, poor-fitting false teeth, or many diseases (such as diabetes or cancer) can hasten gum disease as we become mature.
  • Oral cancer: A concern at any age, this condition is seven times more likely to develop in adults over the age of 65, and leads to more deaths than skin cancer among older Americans. It is especially prevalent if you have a practice of smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
  • Dry mouth: Also named xerostomia, dry mouth is more than simply bothersome — it can be harmful to your health. Saliva is necessary for its lubricating ability, digestive enzymes, acid limiters, enamel-fixing compounds and bacteria-fighting agents. In elderly adults, this problem is unfortunately often caused as a side effect from prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

In addition to the problems mentioned above, drugs taken for other diseases, and the diseases themselves, can adversely affect a person’s oral health in a variety of ways. This often leads other problems (such as diabetes) to worsen, and may even result in whole-body inflammation, which unfortunately encourages gum disease and tooth decay.

Working Together to Keep Your Teeth

Contrary to popular belief, dental problems and tooth loss are not inevitable. In reality, with proper and daily oral hygiene, your teeth can last a lifetime! What’s involved? A good oral health routine involves the following measures:

  • Clean your teeth twice daily (with a soft-bristled toothbrush);
  • Floss each and every day;
  • If using false teeth, regularly clean and care for them as directed;
  • Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water;
  • See your dentist regularly, at least once every six months.

Arthritis and other problems make brushing and flossing challenging. Your Sacramento dentist can suggest special brushes and floss holders that make daily cleaning easier. Therapeutic mouthrinses or special in-office therapies, such as additional teeth cleanings or root scaling and planing, assist in avoiding gum disease. In addition, a careful screening for oral cancer is included in your routine dental exam. Early detection provides the best chance at combating cancer effectively. If you suffer from ongoing dry mouth, altering prescriptions or using dry mouth relief products can help.

Our dentists at the Sacramento Dentistry Group are committed to making your oral health a priority. Call us for an appointment today at (916) 538-6900, or make an appointment with our online scheduler to act together to ensure your teeth last for years to come.

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