As the saying goes, with age comes wisdom and a finer appreciation for the little things in life — and those are two big reasons to smile past 50. But your Boston dentist knows older adults are also at a higher risk of developing several oral health problems as they age. The risk of gum disease, tooth decay, dry mouth, and oral cancer are higher for older adults. Keep reading to learn more about these key problems — and how you can prevent them — from the Kraft & Schrott Dental Associates Team.
#1: Gum Disease
The risk of gum disease is present for patients of all ages, but it rises dramatically over the age of 55. If your gums are red, tender, swollen, and bleed easily, you may have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Left untreated, bacteria forms pockets between the teeth and gums. These “periodontal pockets” grow larger and larger as healthy bone and periodontal tissue disappears, eventually resulting in the loss of some or all teeth.
So what can you do to prevent gum disease as you age? Maintain excellent dental hygiene at home by brushing and flossing regularly. Avoid tobacco, maintain a nutritious diet, and stay on top of regular dental checkups!
People of all ages are vulnerable to tooth decay. For older adults, though, the risk of “root decay” is higher, as the roots of the teeth are often exposed due to gum recession related to gum disease. Old dental work may also be leaking or broken, leading to further decay of the tooth. The mineral fluoride, which remineralizes and strengthens the teeth, can be especially helpful for older adults.
#3: Dry Mouth
Healthy mouths require plenty of hydration, as saliva naturally washes away the acids, bacteria, and food particles that cause cavities and gum disease. Unfortunately, many of the medications that we take as we get older can reduce the amount of saliva your body produces, leaving older adults with dry mouth and a higher risk for cavities and gum disease.
If you are experiencing dry mouth, try to up your water intake throughout the day. You may also want to talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications if it becomes a significant problem.
#4: Oral Cancer
People who are over the age of 55 should be vigilant about undergoing oral cancer screenings. Unfortunately, many Americans have never had even one exam — and cases of the disease are rising in the US. Early detection is closely linked to successful treatment and better outcomes after diagnosis. Your dentist in Boston can provide a quick oral cancer screening at the end of a checkup and cleaning.
About the Authors
Kraft & Schrott Dental Associates provide comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. To learn more about their general services or to schedule a checkup and cleaning or any other treatment, you are invited to contact the “dentist near me” you’re searching for at 617-227-4924.