Continuing Dental Care as you Age
Brushing, flossing, fluoride, and our annual dental cleanings are integral parts to maintaining oral health, but as we grow older, it’s important to recognize that our oral health is also susceptible to age.
Fortunately, you are never too old for a beautiful smile! You can keep your teeth, gums, and oral health at optimal condition with the proper oral hygiene and practices. South Charlotte Family and Cosmetic Dentistry highlights the following changes to your dental upkeep to foresee and prevent complications with your teeth and gums.
Aging vs. Your Smile: What you should know
You’ve definitely experienced changes with your teeth as you’ve grown older; from losing your baby teeth, perhaps getting braces, or having your wisdom teeth removed, to receiving a crown or filling, changes in your oral health are pretty familiar. You’ve likely adjusted your dental care around these changes and maturity as well, whether that’s buckling down on dental visits or finally brushing and flossing daily.
By the ages of 40-60 years old, most adults will experience tooth decay, worn fillings, fractured teeth, and worn enamel due to a number of factors. These issues can lead to sensitive or missing teeth. Proper oral hygiene and consulting with your dentist for personalized care plans is key to the upkeep of your teeth as you age.
Senior Dental Conditions
Some of the common conditions associated with aging and seniors include the following:
Dry Mouth – The aging population experiences a decreased saliva production, resulting in dry mouth. Although it is not a natural part of aging, dry mouth can be a side effect of medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, hypertensive medications for high blood pressure, and antidepressants. Dry mouth is the most common cause of cavities in older adults, as well.
Gum Disease – 25 percent of adults between 65 and 74 years old experience gum disease. When gum disease is left untreated, it can lead to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or inflammation of the bone around your teeth (periodontitis). When left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
Tooth Decay – Many seniors experience gum recession, where gums are pushed back and wear away over time, leaving fragile roots exposed and your teeth at the risk of decay, infection, and loss. People who smoke or use tobacco, over brush or use a toothbrush with rough bristles, or that have diabetes can face an increased risk of receding gums. If you have older fillings, know the broken or chipped fillings are prone to decay and may need to be replaced. Regular check-ups with your dentist can prevent the pain of tooth decay.
Tooth Loss – To older patients who have lost one or two teeth or lost many teeth, know that it’s never too late to get them replaced. The loss of a tooth can lead to further complications down the road, such as other teeth drifting around the mouth and areas around the gum line collecting food and bacteria, leading to infection, affecting how you speak or even eat. There are many options for replacing those teeth, whether that’s considering dentures, implants, or bridges.
We recommend that seniors continue to brush twice a day, floss once a day, use mouthwash, and attend regular dental cleanings. Remember to stay hydrated and avoid tobacco products to avoid dry mouth and reduce your risk of oral cancer. Continue with your regular check-ups, and be sure to talk to your dentist about any health issues and medications, ensuring that you’re aware of any effects they might have on your oral health.
If you put the time into your oral health over the years, your smile is going to show the difference! South Charlotte Family and Cosmetic Dentistry will work together with you to prevent and treat all of your oral health issues, ensuring a beautiful smile for years to come.