Americans are living longer. It’s the truth. With this, comes the challenge of caring for teeth longer than ever before. As we get older, more procedures are likely. While the procedures can be manageable and successful in restoration, they may increase the likelihood of oral disease contraction. As seniors, we need to take special steps to retain our oral health, as it impacts chewing, smiling, speaking and swallowing on a daily basis.
In a lot of ways, the mouth is a reflection of our general health. There is much we can tell about one from another. For example, the medicine prescribed for bodily health concerns can have adverse effects on our oral health. On the other hand, declining oral health can worsen physical conditions, like diabetes. Paying attention to the oral systemic, such as the swelling of gums/gum disease, can act as detection for strokes and heart disease.
Seniors may see a greater amount of cavities in the roots of their teeth because of exposure due to gum recession. In fact, a recent study claims one-third of adults older than 65 have untreated cavities. Stemming from gum recession, gum disease is also a concern. Poor fitting dentures can advance the progressive condition, as well as chronic illnesses like cancer. Speaking of cancer, oral cancer is seven times more prevalent in adults aged older than 65. There are more senior deaths attributed to oral cancer than skin cancer. Early detection checks conducted at Auslander Dental are key! Finally, many elderly people suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia). This lack of lubrication is not just inconvenient, but detrimental, as saliva contains important digestive enzymes, acid neutralizers and bacteria fighters. Prescription medicines often serve as the culprit for this depletion.
So, what can our senior population do to avoid these less than desired consequences? The good news is age itself is not a risk factor for poor dental health or tooth loss. Practice of good hygiene is imperative. Brushing twice a day and flossing once needs to be incorporated into regular care. This may be hard with arthritis or physical limitations, so be sure to utilize tools like large grip toothbrushes and floss holders. Lastly, don’t forget to schedule biannual exams with Dr. Auslander! Our aging patients are our top priority.