As you grow old, you may face a few challenges in maintaining a healthy smile. This is because aging makes you more susceptible to many oral health problems. However, dental health among seniors has greatly improved in recent years. Advanced dentistry makes it possible to address and prevent elderly dental problems effectively.
Common Elderly Dental Problems
Aging puts many older adults at risk for several oral health problems including:
1. Darkened Teeth
With age, the bone-like tissue (the dentin) that lies beneath the tooth enamel changes due to the beverage and foods consumed by us. In addition to teeth discoloration, the diminishing outer enamel layer allows the yellow dentin to become visible, causing darkened teeth.
2. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a common condition among elderly patients which frequently leads to cavities. The problem is not age related, but the dry mouth has been listed as a side effect by some prescription medications used to treat diseases including depression, pain, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
3. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is a major problem among the elderly. Plaque buildup and tartar mostly contribute to tooth decay. Over time, gum recession can take place, exposing the roots of the tooth. Tooth decay results in cavities that cause pain, inflammation, infection, and even tooth loss.
4. Gum Disease
Gum disease in the elderly is a frequent occurrence. Since gum disease develops over a longer period of time, older citizens are more likely to experience problems with gum disease than younger people.
5. Tooth Loss
Tooth loss in seniors is a common issue. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 27.27% of elders over the age of 65 have their remaining teeth missing. Smoking and poor dental hygiene mainly contribute to tooth loss among seniors.
6. Bad Breath
Older adults often suffer from bad breath. However, bad breath isn’t a stand-alone symptom as it is linked to underlying problems such as the dry mouth and periodontal disease. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to bad breath.
Tips to Address and Prevent Dental Problems in the Elderly
As a senior citizen, you can enjoy good oral health by making informed decisions and taking proper care of your teeth and gums. Here are some oral care tips to preserve good oral hygiene:
- Brush twice daily with a toothpaste that has fluoride in it.
- Floss once a day
- Pay regular visits to your dentist for a dental cleaning and oral exam
- Use antibacterial mouthwash to rinse off bacteria to prevent the plaque buildup and gum disease
- Change your toothbrush every 3 -4 months, or earlier if the bristles become tattered
- Quit smoking
- Limit consumption of highly sugary food and beverages
- Increase your calcium intake to strengthen your teeth
- Clean your dentures regularly with denture cleaners
- Remove your dentures from your mouth every four hours to maintain your mouth health
As you age, it’s essential to remember these potential risks and act accordingly. You can enjoy a sparkling, healthy smile with the help of your dentist and the right dental care.
Contact us to learn how to maintain excellent oral health even in your senior years. Schedule your dental appointment with one of our Des Moines dentists today!