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Dental Health for Older Adults: What You Should Know

Sep 10, 2018 | Health and Wellness

 

From the top of our heads to the tips of our toes, there’s a lot to keep track of when it comes to our health. Part of maintaining your overall wellness includes regular trips to the dentist. Even when we do our best to follow best practices, sometimes problems may arise.

Here are some of the top dental health issues diagnosed in seniors:

Tooth Decay

This common foe can rear it’s head for a number of reasons. Some of the most common include frequent consumption of sugary foods, difficulty brushing (due to arthritis or dementia), lots of snacking between meals and a decrease in saliva production.

If you have tooth decay, you’ll likely have a buildup of plaque and tartar that can lead to cavities, infections and even loss of a tooth.

Prevention is key when it comes to tooth decay. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, and be sure to drink plenty of water after meals.

Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)

Bacteria is the root cause of this dental problem. Gum health issues and the symptoms of gum disease can vary, and include irritated, red and bleeding gums.

Fortunately, this is preventable by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth. Consider switching to an electric toothbrush for a more efficient, thorough cleaning.

Receding Gums

If you start to notice your gums shrinking away from your teeth, gum recession is the likely culprit. Plenty of factors can lead to receding gums, including genetics, hygiene and smoking. If you see evidence of receding gums, or notice a loved one displaying symptoms, it’s important to visit your dentist right away. Don’t delay in making an appointment! 

Dry Mouth

As we age, many of us will experience a reduction in saliva. While common, dry mouth can have unintended side effects, such as increased cavities. Drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways to combat any issues with dry mouth. Avoiding sugary foods and beverages is another excellent preventative approach.

Oral Cancer

Drinking alcohol, smoking and simply growing older are all ways we increase our risk factors for oral cancer. A dentist should always be consulted on any persistent sores, ulcers or color changes.

Catching cancer early is critical, so don’t wait if you notice any of these issues.

Remember, you know your health better than anyone else! So be on the lookout for common problems and come to each dentist appointment with a list of questions to address.