Aging doesn’t have to slow you down. But it may mean you need to pay more attention to your physical health, including the condition of your teeth. As you age your dental health may start to decline a bit, which is completely normal. A little extra maintenance and care can go a long way.
Here are some of the common dental problems you may face as you age.
Increased Risk of Cavities
Just as your bones can weaken as you age, your teeth may gradually weaken also. Over time, even with proper dental care, tooth enamel naturally wears down making your teeth more susceptible to cavities. Acidic foods and a lifetime of biting and chewing take their toll on your teeth. Gums recede over time as well, exposing the softer roots of your teeth that can more easily decay.
These are all reasons your risk of cavities increases as you age. It is important to visit the dentist regularly and follow proper dental hygiene at home, now more than ever.
Another of the common dental problems that come with aging is dry mouth. Dry mouth can result from certain medications you may be taking. Medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, allergies, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s are some of the most common ones that can cause dry mouth. Adequate saliva is necessary to naturally rinse teeth and keep the bacteria levels consistent in your mouth.
If you suffer from dry mouth, it’s important to talk to your dentist about it and tell them all of the medications you’re taking. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, use an oral moisturizing spray or mouthwash, and chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production. You could even use a humidifier when the air is dry. Your dentist may recommend an adjustment in your medication or dosage and apply a fluoride treatment after your regular cleanings.
Bacteria in the mouth can infect the gums, causing gum disease. Gum disease is more common in older adults because it is often painless and aging causes nerve endings to be less sensitive in the mouth. Once you feel the effects of gum disease, it may already be advanced. The good news is that gum disease is easily treated and prevented with proper dental care and regular visits to your dentist.
As you age your risk of developing oral cancer increases. This is another reason it is crucial to visit your dentist on a twice yearly schedule. Your dentist will carefully screen you for oral cancer as part of your routine dental exam. Mouth cancer is often painless and patients are not aware that they have it until it is detected by a dentist. When detected early, oral cancer has a high survival rate. It often appears as red or white patches on the inside of your cheeks or lips or on your tongue. Tell your dentist right away if you notice any suspicious spots.
Deterioration of Existing Dental Work
Another common dental issue that comes with age is problems with old dental work. If you have a cavity that was filled many years ago, the filling may fall out or need to be replaced. Crowns or bridges can sometimes loosen and need to be refitted. Your dentist may recognize dental work that needs to be replaced before it falls out or causes a problem during a routine cleaning.
Savannah Dental Solutions Provides Oral Care for Seniors
At Savannah Dental Solutions we understand the increased risk of dental issues in older adults. Through our adult dentistry services, we take care to look for the common dental problems seniors face so that we can be proactive in treating them in order to minimize discomfort and long term effects.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain your dental health as you age.
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease affects approximately 80% of adults in the United States. Many are unaware that they have it, as the symptoms can be subtle until the disease is advanced. Yet it is important to recognize the early warning signs, as gum disease is significantly easier to treat in its earliest stages.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease starts with plaque, a sticky blend of food debris and bacteria that coats the teeth. If it is not promptly and thoroughly removed, plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums and makes it easy for bacteria to invade. This leads to the chronic infection known as gum disease.
The earliest form of gum disease, or gingivitis, is inflammation. Over time, the bacteria begin to attack the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth. At this stage, known as periodontitis, you are at risk for severe decay and even tooth loss. Gum disease can also impact your overall physical health.
Below are the top signs and symptoms of gum disease. If you notice any of these warning signals, see your dentist right away.
Although halitosis, or bad breath, can be caused by many different things, chronic halitosis can be an early sign of gum disease, especially if your mouth tastes strange. The invading bacteria create distinct odors and tastes that do not go away with brushing or mouthwash.
Always call your dentist to report bad breath, even if you are certain that you do not have gum disease. Most causes are relatively minor and simple to treat, but can worsen if left untreated.
Visible or Painful Gum Changes
Healthy gums appear pink or coral, and are even across your teeth. They feel firm to the touch, and are not painful or sore.
Gingivitis causes mild irritation to the gums. If yours are swollen, red, or tender, especially during brushing or flossing, you might be suffering from early gum disease.
As gum disease advances, the gums actually start to recede from the teeth. Your teeth will start to look longer, and your gums might appear uneven throughout your mouth. These are signs of worsening periodontitis, so it is crucial to see the dentist right away.
Bleeding Gums or Pus Pockets
As gum disease causes irritation, it only makes sense that bleeding gums are a very common sign. If your gums bleed while brushing or flossing, or eating crunchy foods, tell your dentist as soon as possible.
Progressing gum disease leads to small pockets of pus between the teeth and the gums. These small spots feel swollen to the touch, and can be either hard or soft. You might pop one of these pockets while eating, and notice a sudden, very bad taste in your mouth. As gum disease continues to worsen, the small pockets tend to give way to large, tremendously painful abscesses.
Changes in the Way Your Teeth Fit Together
Untreated gum disease eventually causes the gums to loosen from the teeth. As bacteria work their way into the gaps, and down into the bones and tissues that support the teeth, they cause changes to the bite. If your teeth seem to close oddly, or you have a partial denture that sits differently in your mouth, your gum disease is likely worsening.
Loose or Shifting Teeth
In late-stage gum disease, the teeth actually begin to loosen and shift within the mouth. This is a serious sign that you are at risk for imminent tooth loss. You must see your dentist right away to save your teeth.
Gum disease affects the vast majority of adults, and it is highly reversible in its earliest stages. Over time, however, gum disease that is left untreated will continue to progress, affecting your overall health and putting you at serious risk for losing your teeth. Even in later stages, however, there are measures your dentist can take to halt and possibly reverse the damage. No matter what signs and symptoms you are currently experiencing, now is the right time to contact your dentist.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.