As you age, your risk of getting health problems increases, including a myriad of problems that have to do with the gums, mouth, and aging teeth. You may wonder why all of a sudden, you have cavities when it was never an issue before. A lifetime of grinding, chewing, general wear and tear, and gnashing, combined with other medical conditions, neglect in dental care, and various medications, all contribute to oral health concerns for seniors.
Oral Health Problems Seniors Face
Dry Mouth - medically known as xerostomia, dry mouth is a result of the insufficient flow of saliva. Dry mouth is usually a side effect of lifelong medications, such as pain killers, antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants, and many more or a symptom of a medical disorder, such as Sjögren's syndrome.
Lack of saliva can result in extensive tooth decay. Some of the prevalent concerns connected with dry mouth are dry nasal passages, burning sensation in the mouth, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, among others. In some cases, dry mouth is a result of cancer treatments that uses radiation to the neck and head area.
Darkened teeth - darkened teeth may be a symptom of a more serious oral health problem, so it is advisable that you have it checked by a dentist. Darkened teeth are normally caused by the effect of a lifetime consumption of stain-causing drinks and foods. To some degree, it is a result of changes in the dentin - the bone-like tissue that controls the tooth enamel.
Less sense of taste - age is one factor that diminishes the sense of taste. Dentures, medications, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to this sensory impairment.
Gum disease - this common oral health problem, also known as periodontal disease, is caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar. Smoking, poor diet, food left in teeth, dentures, poor-fitting bridges, and certain illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and anemia, all play a significant role in seniors having gum disease. Symptoms of gum disease include red, irritated, and bleeding gums. As a result of gum disease, tooth losses may also become a common problem.
Root decay - when the tooth root is exposed to decay-causing acids, root decay may occur. This happens when roots are exposed as a result of receding gums. Since roots have no enamel for protection, they are more susceptible to decay than the tooth crown.
Oral Hygiene Tips for Senior Adults
As a general rule, daily brushing and flossing are necessary to keep your teeth in good oral health. To maintain good working teeth, mouth, and gums as you age, here are some simple guidelines to follow:
- Floss at least once a day
- Brush at least two times a day and use fluoride-containing toothpaste or denture appropriate ones for those using dentures
- Rinse with antiseptic mouthwash one or two times a day
- Visit your dentist regularly for an oral exam and cleaning
The American Cancer Society recorded a total of 35,000 cases of tongue, mouth, and throat cancer each year, with an average age of 62 for most of the people diagnosed with the disease. Make sure that you have your dentist check for any signs of oral cancer during your regular visits.
If you are looking for a dentist in Ann Arbor to help you with your oral health, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.