Getting older often means aching backs, hip replacements, and trouble hearing. Just as other parts of our bodies change as we get older, our teeth change as well! However, if cared for properly, your teeth can last you a lifetime. For adults 65 years and older, it’s important to understand how your teeth may change and how good dental care can help maintain your pearly whites.
How do our teeth and mouth change as we age?
After years of eating and drinking, the enamel on our teeth gets worn down which can leave the teeth less protected. Receding gums are also common in seniors, which makes it easier for bacteria to build up in the mouth. Older adults are also more likely to experience dry mouth due to age and to certain medications they may be taking.
What dental problems are common among older adults?
Because of the changes listed above, older adults are more prone to several dental issues. Without enamel’s protection older adults are more likely to develop cavities. Excessive bacteria in the mouth can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, which can result in tooth loss. Oral cancer is also more likely in older individuals, especially those who smoke or drink alcohol.
What can you do to protect your teeth as you get older?
As you age its more important than ever to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Drink tap water; the tap water in most areas in the country contains fluoride which can help prevent tooth decay. If you wear dentures, be sure to clean them regularly to reduce the build-up of bacteria in your mouth.
How often should you visit the dentist as you get older?
Older adults should have a dental check-up every six months. This will allow the dentist to remove any tartar and to assess your mouth for any developing dental issues. A dentist can also spot signs of other health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis.
If you are 65 years of age or older (or are a caregiver for someone in this age group), be sure that you continue to make dental health a priority. Contact Vacendak Dentistry today to schedule an appointment by phone at (757) 609-3510 or online.