Our bodies go through a lot of changes as we age, most of them unfortunately negative on an overall health basis. In regards to aging-related maladies, most people think of aching/stiff joints, worsening eyesight, and some changes in mental health.
But over a lifetime of chewing, teeth-gnashing, and other wear/tear mixed with other external factors can cause certain dental problems in seniors.
Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) happens when bacteria from plaque and tartar build-up along the gums. Your primary signs of gum disease include red, irritable,, and even bleeding gums. However, those with gum disease might also experience constant bad breath, longer-looking teeth (from the gum line receding), and in worse cases, pus leaking out from the gums.
Gum disease has 3 stages:
Gingivitis – Sensitive gums, some minor bleeding when brushing.
Periodontics – Irreversible damage is done to bone and fibers supporting teeth. Pocket forms below the gum line, trapping food particles.
Advanced Periodontitis – Bone and fibers supporting teeth are destroyed. Teeth might loosen or shift, possible requiring removal and replacement.
Fortunately, gum disease can be caught early thanks to the minor symptoms. Schedule a dentist appointment with Absolute Smile right away if you see these symptoms.
Dry mouth is prevalent in seniors because saliva production slows down as the body ages. It’s not only uncomfortable, but it can actually accelerate other dental problems in seniors because saliva breaks down and washes away food particles. Thus, without as much saliva, particles build up in the mouth much faster, increasing the rate at which gum disease and tooth decay may happen.
Drinking water is an excellent way to combat dry mouth, not to mention the numerous other health benefits of staying hydrated. Chewing gum and mints can stimulate the salivary glands as well.
Bacteria that cause gum disease also cause tooth decay. Decay can lead to painful cavities within the teeth and eventually complete tooth loss.
The prevalence of dry mouth among older adults only exacerbates the issue of tooth decay.
Once your teeth are decaying, you’re too far gone. Therefore, you want to focus on prevention. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and use mouth wash to grab stubborn particles. Reduce sugar consumption and increase water consumption. Less sugar means less bacteria, and more water means slower buildup of plaque.
Unfortunately, your chance of getting oral cancer does increase with age. Drinking and/or smoking increase your chances, but for some, it may sadly appear despite great efforts to stay healthy.
Regular checkups with your dentist are vital to catching early warning signs of cancer and potentially saving your life.
The best prevention tactic is to cut out smoking and drinking as soon as possible if you participate in either activity. It won’t guarantee protection from oral cancer, but it definitely decreases the chance. Also, quitting these activities leads to other health benefits too, improving your overall quality of life.
A Note On Nutrition
Many oral issues can make eating food difficult or painful. Being unable to sufficiently chew and swallow food means the body gets less raw materials and energy to repair tissue and fight disease. Dental problems can accelerate, spawning a vicious cycle of undernourishment.
Schedule an appointment with Absolute Smile today so we can address these issues and keep your smile shining bright well into your golden years.