Maintain Your Oral Health as You Age!
Maintaining one's oral health represents a life-long commitment that becomes more important as we age. Older folks are more susceptible to common dental problems, which can become harder to maintain over time. Keeping a bright smile and healthy mouth as we grow older is worth the maintenance. Oral health is closely linked to one's overall health. Maintaining this positive relationship can be crucial to our wellbeing.
By the time we hit our 60s our teeth and gums have been subjected to decades of wear and tear. It is likely, they have been affected by some common dental problems such as tooth decay, some degree of gum disease, and perhaps related tooth loss. In fact, studies suggest that 25 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have lost at least one tooth. Furthermore, 25 percent of seniors between the ages of 65 and 74 are experiencing gum disease.
Links Between Oral and Overall Health
Researchers have established a link between diabetes and gum disease. Studies also suggest that there is a link between gum disease bacteria, heart disease and stroke. Researchers are taking a closer look at the potential link between gum disease bacteria and Alzheimer's disease. One particular type of bacteria has been identified as a neuron-destroying toxin in Alzheimer's patients. The prevalence of these conditions in the older population should make seniors especially diligent in practicing regular dental hygiene.
The dental care experts at Island Tower Dentistry are attuned to the special needs of its senior patient population in the Southwest Florida area. We suggest that seniors should focus their oral health care on the following considerations:
Commonly known as "tooth decay" or "cavities," this condition has long been associated more with youth than it has the elderly population. However, seniors are just as much at risk from getting dental caries as children and younger adults. This is because the enamel covering the tooth's crown gets worn down over the years and becomes thinner as we age, making it easier for decay to set in. Additionally, gums tend to recede as we age, exposing the underlying root surfaces to acids and related bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Existing fillings can also lead to caries, as they weaken and loosen over time, opening a seam between the filling material and enamel through which acids and bacteria can infiltrate.
As a leading cause of tooth loss in adults, seniors should take special care in fighting gum disease. Some seniors already have some form of gum disease, whether it is the early-stage gingivitis or the more severe-stage periodontitis. Gingivitis can be reversed, and periodontitis can be controlled with a mix of professional treatments and effective personal oral hygiene.
While people tend to produce less saliva as they age, this problem is compounded by the fact that older people tend to consume more prescription and over-the-counter medications. Many of these medicines cause a decrease in saliva as a side effect. The resultant dry mouth, whether aging- or medication-related, reduces the body's natural means of staving off tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva helps neutralize harmful acids and rinses away bacteria before it can adhere to the teeth and gums.
Oral cancers primarily affect those over the age of 50, so older people should pay close attention to anything unusual that occurs in the mouth. This includes red or white patches on the gums, tongue and surrounding inner cheek areas. Other symptoms can be sores that don't heal; and any lumps or irregular tissues formation.
Practice Regular Oral Hygiene and See Your Dentist
Maintaining regular oral hygiene practices will go a long way in keeping your mouth and teeth healthy as you age. It may help inhibit the development of other health conditions that can arise in the body, too. Along with regular brushing and flossing, make sure that you keep hydrated to maintain saliva production. Regularly scheduled visits to the dentist are a key element of maintaining oral health.
The dental-care experts at Island Tower Dentistry are dedicated to maintaining the dental health of all patients throughout their lifetimes and take pride in addressing the special needs of its older patients. This includes a full check-up to cover the above-mentioned issues, remedies for dry mouth, and solutions for any other problems that may restrict an elderly patient's ability to practice effective dental hygiene. If you would like to learn more about how our Marco Island, Florida dental team addresses the needs of older patients, or discuss any oral health concern, contact us today at 239-394-1004 to make an appointment!