As we all age, the nerves in our teeth shrink typically and even more so if there is an atypical enamel wear issue that can make teeth more vulnerable to additional dental problems. This is not a normal aging process but unfortunately, is a common issue.
Improper occlusion (how your teeth come together), any grinding or clenching issue and minor general use combined with certain medications and medical conditions can adversely impact your oral health.
Today and don’t delay” is the best time to take ideal care of your teeth, routine care is essential. Prevention is always most comfortable, least costly, and it preserves your teeth! Being able to eat normally with a full set of teeth helps one have the best nutrition for one’s only oral health and overall health.
There are many myths regarding dental conditions in older people or in an aging population. For example, many people still think that losing one’s teeth is common when you get older. This is not true. Losing teeth is a disease process. If cared for properly, teeth can and will last a lifetime.
How Age Can Affect Teeth:
Certain changes in your body may occur gradually over time as you get older:
These changes can impact the bone and tissue in the oral cavity and may lead to future dental problems.
Common Oral Problems in Older Adults
1. Dry Mouth
A dry mouth is a typical oral health issue in the older adult population. Saliva helps clean and wash away food debris and bring your mouth back to a neutral pH after eating; therefore, your saliva helps protect teeth from decay and damage and keeps gums healthy.
However, saliva production can decrease with age, and one of the most common reasons for this is medication use. The results can be anywhere from replacing the decreased flow of saliva by simply drinking more water throughout the day to fully life-altering issues where xerostomia (a condition with no saliva flow) can put one’s teeth in dire risk of rampant decay and tooth loss.
Common causes of dry mouth are:
Dry mouth can increase your risk for:
2. Gum Disease
It is estimated at least 75% of the adult population has gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue that holds and protects the teeth. A major reason for this is that gum disease or gingivitis is not painful! If you have ever seen any bleeding (even just a little) with brushing and flossing, that is a visual sign that you have gingivitis. Oral bleeding is NEVER normal. Gingivitis is highly transmissible, and the bacteria that cause gingivitis is unfortunately shared between partners. It has two stages:
Factors that can increase your risk for periodontal disease are:
As one ages, your gums may recede from improper brushing, bite issues or illness, and exposed root surfaces of your teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay and cavities. Also, if one suffers from decreased saliva production, this creates a more acidic environment that is necessary for bacteria to cause decay and attack teeth causing cavitation and holes. People with dry mouth have an increased risk of developing cavities.
4. Oral Cancer
The chance of oral cancer increases with risk factors. These are some of the risk factors that can increase your risk for oral cancer:
Tips to Protect Your Teeth and Gums
The following tips will help you protect your teeth and gums:
When to See a Dentist
A dental exam is advised at least every six months to help prevent extensive issues.
You should schedule an immediate appointment with your dentist as soon as you experience:
Age-related dental problems are not typical. They are a part of a disease process and can impact your quality of life and cause problems with your speech and self-esteem.