Ageing isn’t always simple, and your mouth is no exception. Last century, the need for dentures in later life was a foregone conclusion.
Today, three-quarters of people over 65 retain at least some of their natural teeth.
At the same older people suffer higher rates of gum disease, dental decay, mouth infections, and tooth loss. These problems are nothing to smile about, but you can still do a lot to keep your mouth looking and feeling younger than its years.
Senior and elderly patients generally require additional dental care, because as we age, conditions such as dry mouth and periodontal disease can pose a greater risk.
Also, many older patients lose dexterity as they suffer from conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and reduced mobility – this affects their at-home care.
Main Beach Dental listed some tips on how to prevent dental problems in the golden years.
Dental Issues of Ageing
Difficulty brushing and flossing. If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss. Ask your dentist for ways to overcome this problem as many adaptive products exist.
Tooth Decay. Aging causes gums to recede due to the damage caused by brushing too hard or gum disease. Receding gums cause the exposure of the root surfaces of teeth – this is why getting older is sometimes called “getting old in the tooth.” Root surfaces are softer and more porous and therefore more susceptible to decay than the tooth crown.
Gingivitis. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance into periodontitis.
Gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue that supports the teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Most adults show some signs of gum disease.
Periodontitis. Periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease, affects more than half of 65- to 74-year-olds. Untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.
Dry mouth. Many common medications cause a decrease in saliva, leading to dry mouth. Saliva plays a major role in preventing tooth decay by rinsing away bacteria and food particles and by neutralizing harmful acids.
Oral cancer. Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age. See a dentist immediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums, tongue or other oral tissues, and watch for sores that fail to heal within two weeks.
The Mouth-Health Relationship
The mouth is not an isolated organ, but an integral part of the immune system. It is intimately connected to many other parts of the body and a bacterial imbalance or gum disease in the mouth can create problems in other parts of the body as well.
Scientists have discovered good evidence that gum disease is linked to the risk of various types of cancer (including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer and others), heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems.
So, keeping your mouth healthy is a great first step in keeping your whole body healthy!
How to Prevent Dental Problems in the Golden Years
Brush Twice a Day, but Don’t Rush It
You’ve been taught that you should brush your teeth twice a day: once in the morning and once at night before going to sleep. Make sure to reach your tongue and upper mouth.
Keep Your Gums Healthy
Plaque is a type of bacteria that can cause swelling and soreness in your gums. It can even affect the root of your teeth if left untreated and can lead to a severe gum condition called periodontitis.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Floss at least once a day to keep the areas between teeth, that brushes don’t reach, clear and clean.
Keep Wear and Tear Under Control
Your teeth are incredibly strong, but as you age they lose some of their amazing strength. Stay away from hard or sticky foods.
Don’t Let Your Mouth Dry Out
Saliva helps clean teeth and protects them from decay. As you age, your mouth gets drier. Make sure to drink plenty of water.
You can also chew gum or suck on sugarless candies to maintain a constant flow of saliva. If you suspect your medications are to blame for your dry mouth, talk to your doctor.
Schedule Regular Dentist Appointments
It’s easy to skip the dentist when things seem to be going well, or there is no pain. But just because your teeth look healthy now, it doesn’t mean you should stop caring for them.
Remember, your oral health is likely to become a bit more difficult as you get older, so now more than ever you shouldn’t skip any dentist appointments if you want to optimise your health.
Dental Care at Main Beach Dental
Main Beach Dental has your health as our number one priority, and we support it by optimising your dental health.
Our team is excellently trained registered dentists with impressive clinical skills who work together to provide you with comprehensive dental services.
We provide gentle, skilled, thorough care for all dental issues and work to prevent decay, disease, and too many dental appointments down the road.
Main Beach Dental takes advantage of modern dental technology. For anything that requires X-ray, we use Digital X-rays which use lower levels of radiation.
Using this latest dental technology, we can produce a sharper image so we can get a clearer picture of your dental situation.
FREE Dental Consultation
- Dental Check-up
- Smile Makeover
- Implant Dentistry
To find out how to prevent dental problems in the golden years, call us on (07) 5503 1177 or visit at 11/26-30 Tedder Ave in Main Beach.