When you reach your golden years, there is a good chance your oral health will not be as great as it was when you were younger. Increased medication use, certain diseases and lack of affordable dental care can do a number on your teeth and gums. That is why it is more important than ever to take extra good care of your dental health. Here are some common dental problems in seniors and how to deal with them:
Cavities do not just affect little children; they can also be a big problem for older adults. Tooth decay is commonly caused by dry mouth, which is pretty common among seniors. If there is not enough saliva in your mouth to wash away food particles, plaque can accumulate on your teeth. According to Tooth Wisdom, certain medications, such as blood pressure drugs and antidepressants, can increase the risk of dry mouth. To reduce dry mouth, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and chew sugar-free gum after meals. If your medication is the reason for your dry mouth, ask your doctor if you can switch to a different medicine.
Gum disease is another oral health problem seniors have to worry about. If you have smoked tobacco all your life, suffer from diabetes or wear poor-fitting dentures, you have an increased risk of gum disease. To reduce your chances of developing this oral health condition, remember to floss between your teeth every day and use an antibacterial mouthwash after you brush your teeth. It is also important to visit your dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. If the dentist detects signs of gum disease, he can recommend a treatment plan before it progresses any further.
Over half of all people with oral cancer are over the age of 65, according to the American Cancer Society. If you are a heavy smoker or drinker, your risk of developing this disease is even higher. It is vital to watch out for signs of oral cancer, such as difficulty swallowing, a rough lump in your mouth and difficulty moving your jaw. You should also get oral cancer screenings at the dentist's office at least once a year. If oral cancer is detected in its early stages, it is easier to treat.
Tooth loss is pretty common among seniors. In fact, individuals older than 65 have approximately 18.90 teeth left, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Several different factors can contribute to tooth loss, including smoking tobacco, eating sugary foods and not visiting the dentist often enough. Even if you just have a couple missing teeth, chewing food and speaking may be more difficult. The next time you see your dentist, talk to him about the possibility of getting dentures or dental implants.
Tooth discoloration might not be as serious as other senior oral health issues, but it can decrease your self-confidence. The enamel of your teeth can deteriorate as you get older, making your teeth appear discolored. You can reduce tooth discoloration by limiting certain foods and drinks, such as red wine, coffee, curry sauce and blueberries. If you still feel self-conscious about your teeth, you should talk to your dentist about professional whitening treatments.
It can be disheartening to know that your age puts you at risk of so many dental problems. However, if you make a true effort to brush and floss every day, avoid bad dental habits and visit your dentist every six months, you will be more likely to maintain good oral health.