Common Oral Health Concerns in Seniors
As we age there are certain oral health concerns that become more prevalent. It’s crucial to take care of your teeth your whole life, but after the age of 55, your oral health needs can change and require more attention. Here are some common oral health concerns in seniors and some suggestions on how to help them.
According to the Washington Dental Service Foundation (WDSF), about 75% of adults 60 and over only have a portion of their natural teeth. Tooth loss is a major concern for seniors. It can affect the way you look, talk and eat. As you age, many adults experience receding gums, which exposes the roots and increases your risk of tooth decay and tooth loss. The best way to prevent tooth loss is to see your dentist regularly for routine exams and screenings. However, if you do experience tooth loss you may be able to restore your smile with implants, dentures or partial dentures. Our Eugene dentist office offers all of these services and we’d be happy to set up a consultation!
Probably one of the most common concerns or irritants in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth and can be uncomfortable and damaging to your oral health. A lot of medications including many over-the-counter drugs have the side effect of dry mouth. Since older people are more likely to take medication, dry mouth is very common among seniors. Smoking or chewing tobacco is also known to cause dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to increase salivary flow while also freshening your breath.
More Cavities and Tooth Decay
As we age we enter another period of cavity prone years. Several factors can increase your risk of cavities and tooth decay like medication, diet, dry mouth and not cleaning your teeth regularly. As you get older it can be more difficult to effectively clean your teeth and gums, which is why it’s important to see your dentist regularly who can reach all of those tough areas. Older adults can also experience decreased tooth sensitivity as nerves change. So it may be harder to detect gum disease and cavities.
When a buildup of plaque on the gums or teeth gets infected, gum disease occurs. This is a common condition in older adults who did not develop proper oral health care habits earlier in life. However, it can be reversible with a professional cleaning from your dentist and regular brushing and flossing.
The average age of people diagnosed with mouth cancer is 62, so it can be a very common concern for seniors. The early stages of mouth cancer typically aren’t very painful so it can be hard to detect. That’s why oral cancer screenings by your dentist are crucial to early detection and saving lives. Our dentist office provides complimentary oral cancers screenings at every exam, all the more reason to keep up with your routine exams with Dentistry at The Ten! If you aren’t already a patient with us, we are accepting new ones.