Tooth enamel wears away as we age. When this happens, our teeth become vulnerable to different dental conditions, like cavities and decay. When neglected, overall health and quality of life are negatively affected. For that reason, older adults should take proper dental care seriously. These reasons are why dental care is important for older adults. It is essential to know the common dental problems that can occur during old age and some tips for maintaining good dental health.
Common Dental Problems in Old Age
Aging puts seniors at risk of various dental problems. Placing dental care on top of the list of your priorities can decrease the likelihood of them occurring:
The thinning of tooth enamel is one of the causes of darkened teeth. When the outer, protective layer of teeth wears down, the next layer, the dentin, is visible. Dentin appears as a darker yellow color. Food and drinks also add to the existing stains on teeth, leading to darkening. Whatever the cause, darkened teeth can indicate a more serious health issue, so visiting a dentist is a must.
Aging is a heavily contributing factor to the occurrence of dry mouth. It is a condition where there is insufficient saliva production in the mouth. When there is not enough saliva, soft and hard tissues in the gums and mouth are affected. Additionally, dental caries and infections may occur.
Many seniors suffer from gum diseases caused by the accumulation of plaque and food particles left on the surface of the teeth and along the gum lines. Some conditions common in older adults, such as diabetes and cancer, can also be caused by gum diseases.
Tooth loss is a common dental condition in people 65 years and older. Gum diseases are one of the major causes of tooth loss. Studies also suggest that a decline in physical health is among the contributing factors that lead to tooth loss.
With tooth loss comes the increased likelihood of having deteriorated or weakened jawbones. When not addressed appropriately, weakened jawbones become uneven, leading to severe fractures. Weakened jawbones can also lead to loss of teeth because the remaining teeth lose their support.
Unfortunately, there are several other dental problems caused by aging. Denture-induced stomatitis, impaired sense of taste, and root decay are among them. With these dental conditions posing more serious health problems, one should never neglect the importance of dental care in old age.
Dental Hygiene Tips for Seniors
Here are some tips for maintaining good dental health and preventing problems caused by aging:
1. Brush and Floss Daily
Seniors should practice proper dental hygiene to maintain good dental health. It is important to brush twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. For seniors having difficulty brushing due to things like arthritis, there are electric toothbrushes that make brushing easier and more convenient. Flossing at least once a day prevents plaque along the gum lines. If flossing once a day is not possible, consult a dentist for the best alternative.
2. Clean Dentures Regularly
If you wear partial or full dentures, always remove them before sleeping. Cleaning them is crucial to preventing the growth of bacteria and other microbes that can cause dental health problems.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Seniors should avoid foods and drinks with high sugar or acid content. When consumed, these foods and drinks can cause severe damage to your tooth enamel and cause many dental and other health problems. Experts suggest that calcium intake should be increased to prevent osteoporosis. Additionally, increase water intake to prevent dry mouth.
4. Quit Smoking
Smoking darkens teeth and leads to other health risks. When you stop smoking, it helps to maintain good dental and overall health. Dentists and other experts can advise you on how to quit smoking effectively.
5. Schedule Routine Dental Visits
Regardless of age, everyone should visit dentists regularly. Routine dental visits help catch minor dental issues and keep them from becoming severe dental problems. For people needing elderly dental care, visiting a dentist at least twice a year is necessary. If the budget permits it, more frequent dental visits are recommended.
The Importance of Dental Care in Old Age
Proper dental care prevents problems that come with aging and contribute to the deterioration of dental health. Good dental care also helps maintain overall health and wellbeing while improving quality of life.
At Dental Arts, we have the best dentists in San Diego, CA, who can provide top-notch dental services to prevent any dental problems as your age. For any inquiries, questions, or to schedule an appointment, call us at (619) 444-1001 or visit our website today! We are located at 707 Arnele Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92020.