As you age, your health becomes impacted in a number of ways, and your oral health is no exception.
It’s important to note that oral health plays a huge role in your overall health and well-being. Having good dental health not only protects you against issues such as gum disease, gum inflammation, and tooth loss, but it also lowers your risk for many health conditions.
Research tells us that struggling with dental problems such as gingivitis can lead to serious health issues such as lung disease, heart disease, and strokes.
That means it’s important to be aware of what oral health problems can affect you as an older adult. Protecting yourself against these dental issues can protect your teeth, gums, and even your whole body.
In this blog, Nasrin Sadeghi, DMD, and Medha Singh, BDS, DMD, MS, and the rest of our team at First Dental Associates in Reading, Massachusetts, review common oral health problems that plague seniors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost every adult — 96%, in fact — over the age of 65 has had a cavity, and 20% have untreated tooth decay. This is most likely due to the fact that as you age, the enamel that exists to protect your teeth starts to wear away.
In addition, aging can cause your gumlines to recede, exposing tooth roots and allowing root decay to settle in.
To lessen your risk of both tooth and root decay, brush your teeth often with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss to remove leftover food and any plaque buildup.
Studies suggest that 2 in 3 older adults struggle with gum disease. This starts off as gingivitis, whose symptoms include swollen, red, and bleeding gums. If this introduction to gum disease is left untreated, it can turn into full-blown periodontitis. Periodontitis can lead to gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss.
Severe gum disease is caused by plaque buildup; that development of plaque can be jump-started through food left in your teeth, the use of tobacco products, ill-fitted dentures or bridges, and certain diseases such as diabetes.
Take extra care with your oral hygiene routine and seek immediate dental care if you notice any early signs of gum disease in order to keep it from worsening.
Because gum disease is so high in older adults, tooth loss is also extremely high. In fact, almost 20% of adults over 65 have lost all of their teeth. When you have missing teeth or wear dentures, it can start to affect your nutrition, since eating with dentures or gaps in your teeth is difficult.
While aging alone doesn’t cause dry mouth, many factors that are present when you get older — such as taking certain medications or chronic health conditions — can cause reduced saliva flow. Dry mouth is known for its ability to increase your risk of cavities.
Talk with our team about ways you can restore moisture back to your mouth in addition to seeing if there are different medications you can take to avoid dry mouth.
The median age for oral cancer is 62. Oral cancer doesn’t usually present with symptoms in its earliest stages, so it’s important to come and see us regularly in order to check for any signs of cancer, even if you don’t have any of your natural teeth left.
Preventative care and regular dental checkups are key for the prevention of many of these dental issues, so make sure coming in for exams on a regular basis.
To schedule an appointment with our expert team, give us a call at 781-438-1312 or use our online booking tool today.