As we age, oral health can become an important issue. In fact, the Washington Dental Service Foundation (WDSF), claims that 75 percent of adults over the age of 60 have only a portion of their natural teeth. This portion of the population also has been shown to suffer in greater numbers from gum disease, decay, and dry mouth. Unfortunately, these problems can also increase the risks for problems like heart disease, Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. Read on to learn more about seniors and the issues that are unique to their oral health.
Dental Problems That Increase As You Age
- Old Fillings. Older teeth are more prone to decay around older fillings and at the gum line. Over time, older fillings can also weaken and break. That is why regular cleanings and examinations are critical for seniors. Also important is fluoride in toothpaste, mouth rinses, and keeping your mouth properly hydrated.
- Dry Mouth. The risk for tooth decay also increases in older adults with dry mouth. Because medications and radiation therapy can also increase this problem, you should see a dentist or physician who can suggest strategies to help with dry mouth.
- Gum Disease. Untreated gum disease can progress slowly, but remain undetected as it causes damage to gums, jawbone, and teeth. Lack of proper oral hygiene, tobacco use, poor diet choices and medical conditions can also make periodontal conditions worse. Even more seriously, periodontal disease has also been linked with health issues like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems. This means that it is even more important to have a healthy mouth.
- Halitosis. This can also be a significant problem that is increased by diet, dry mouth, and underlying health conditions. If you are a senior and experiencing long-term problems with bad breath, we would encourage you to see a medical professional right away to figure out what is causing your halitosis.
Alzheimer’s Disease And Oral Health
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia, where sufferers gradually lose brain function. This condition gets worse over time and can impact thinking, behavior, and memory function. This can also be a significant concern for oral health. The reason for this is that Alzheimer’s patients often forget how to brush their teeth or that they need to brush every day. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s it is important for caretakers to be patient and help them take care of their teeth properly.
How Does Osteoporosis Impact Oral Health
Osteoporosis is a medical issue that is common in older adults. If you have this condition, bones in your body can weaken and fracture more easily. Women who have already gone through menopause are at the highest risk for developing the disease. This condition can also impact bone density in the mouth, causing teeth to become loose. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), women with osteoporosis are 3 times more likely to lose a tooth than women without osteoporosis. If you are suffering from this condition, it is best to see your dentist for tips and suggestions on how to keep your mouth and jaw healthy and strong.
Smoking And Oral Health As You Age
Smokers and tobacco users have an increased risk for developing oral cancer as they age. This means that seniors who smoke often have higher rates of oral cancers. If you are nearing or entering your senior years, we recommend quitting tobacco use and getting regular oral cancer screenings. For help quitting, see www.lung.org or www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/how-to-quit-smoking.
Proper Oral Hygiene Is Important At Any Age
Teeth can last a lifetime if given proper home hygiene and regular dental care. No matter what your age, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist for professional cleanings and checkups on a regular basis. So make sure you take care of your teeth properly and they will take care of you!
Seniors Are Always Welcome At Dentistry Of Nashville!
Here at Dentistry of Nashville, we always welcome seniors. So if you live in the Nashville, TN area and beyond, Drs. Elam, Vaughan, and Fleming would love to help you get a healthy and beautiful smile today. Contact us today for a no obligation consultation and get started on the attractive smile you have always wanted.