Oral Health as You Age
Whether you’ve experienced the changes of the mouth due to age or you’re nearing those “golden years” and want to know what oral health changes to expect, you know that your mouth, like the rest of your body won’t function or look as great as it once did. Great oral health is important for older patients as the changes that happen in their mouths put them at an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay. While not every dental health issue associated with advanced age can be avoided, the severity can be limited.
Common Age-Related Oral Health Issues
As we age, our teeth and gums get exposed to germs, bacteria and force from use. Our teeth become discolored due to the consumption of coffee, tea, soda and sugar and starchy, carb-laden foods. As we become adults, we eat and drink what we want. We can also let our proper oral hygiene habits slide. We may skip a night of flossing or teeth brushing and we may forgo the recommended six-month teeth cleaning and dental exam at the dentist office. The combination of these factors result in the occurrence of tooth decay and gum disease.
If the tooth decay and gum disease isn’t treated, it can lead to dental problems in the future. Many seniors have few, if any, remaining natural teeth as a result of improper oral hygiene and lack of treatment for underlying oral health problems. On top of this is the reality that seniors are already at a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
As one ages, other health and mobility issues can hinder proper teeth brushing and flossing. In addition, older adults take multiple medications for the treatment of other health issues. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. Patients with dry mouth increase their risk of oral health issues as the reduction of saliva production is unable to adequately rinse out and dislodge trapped food particles from inside the mouth. These leftover food particles can accumulate and create enamel destroying acid.
It is common for older patients to have sensitive, discolored teeth that are susceptible to cracking and chipping and receding gums. Cavities of the tooth root and advanced gum disease are major dental health issues for senior patients.
Common Restorative and Cosmetic Dental Treatments
While preventative dental care is ideal for maintaining a healthy mouth, it isn’t feasible for many cases. Most adults get at least one cavity and low-level gum disease in their lifetimes. These issues can be easily treated and the damage can be reversed with prompt, early treatment. This is where restorative dentistry comes in. Regardless of a patient’s age, this type of dentistry can restore their smile to its healthier, more vibrant, youthful version. Common restorative dentistry treatments include crowns, fillings, root planing and scaling, root canals, implants, full-mouth restoration and bridges.
While restorative dental treatments can enhance the look of a patient’s smile, its main goal is to improve the health of the teeth and gums. Patients both young and old who want their smiles to look their best, choose cosmetic dentistry.
Just like restorative dentistry, cosmetic dentistry isn’t limited to age. It’s a great dental treatment option for any patient who wants to take years off their smile. Common cosmetic dental procedures include veneers, bonding and professional teeth whitening. For seniors, implants can also be considered cosmetic dentistry as they can be used to support dentures.
As one ages, the greater the risks are of getting tooth decay and gum disease increases. Consistent, good oral hygiene including daily brushing and flossing and six-month visits to the dentist is the best preventative measures patients can do to help minimize the risk of future dental issues. Restorative dentistry offers effective treatment options for patients to restore the health of their teeth and gums. Cosmetic dentistry can enhance the appearance of a patient’s smile regardless of their age.
Whether you’re 19 or 99 or any age in between, regular dental checkups are important to help minimize the dental issues that can result from oral health changes as one ages. If you haven’t been in to see us at Parham Dental Group for more than six months, contact us today to schedule an appointment.