How these two go hand in hand are the determinants of your general dental health. Aging happens to us all; it’s simply a wonderful fact of life. Whereas our mouths signify symptoms or persistent conditions that can prevail if we neglect them, the aging of our teeth lands in the mirror, first and foremost. We want to see a beautiful smile. We want to have successful relationships and work progress. We want to gain our confidence back after years of embarrassing gaps in our mouths or bad breath, or connections that suffer. Understanding the aging process and the toll it takes on our teeth can be front and center.
The Consequences of Neglect
Here are several ways that aging can appear in our dental health, if left untreated. Remember that as we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years.
- Dry mouth – To be clear, dry mouth is not a normal part of aging, yet it is a side-effect in those taking numerous medications for high blood pressure, pain, high cholesterol, depression, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases. Make sure to alert your dentist to any medications you’re taking so they can help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.
- Gum Disease – Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is most common in older adults due to the fact that it can go undetected. The early stages of gum disease are painless until it has reached an advanced stage. Neglecting treatment for gum disease will eventually destroy gums, bones, and the ligaments supporting the teeth. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where food particles and bacteria may collect. This leads to plaque that irritates the gums and causes swelling and bleeding. However, paying regular visits to your dentist may prevent periodontal disease entirely with treatment.
- Mouth cancer – The average age of mouth cancer is 62. A dental visit will check for any signs of cancer in your throat, tongue, and interior sides of the mouth. Noticeable symptoms of mouth cancer are open sores, changes in the lips, and white or reddish patches that last for more than a few weeks.
Other Considerations Of Aging and Dental Health
There are two primary questions you should consider asking about your oral care when having a consultation with your dentist. Make sure to tell your dentist everything, whether you believe it to be relevant or not and ask for advice on what to do to improve. Because some conditions have a high risk of infection, it’s important to ask about any medications that can interfere with dental treatments. Medications such as heart medicine and certain drugs for arthritis could impact your teeth and the care they need.
When caregiving for an elderly parent, spouse, or friend, and they are unable to maintain healthy oral hygiene habits on their own, it might helpful if you could set aside reminders for them to brush and floss daily. Making sure they have regular dental visits will also help them keep up with their dental health. Forgetting about oral health is not uncommon for someone who is confined to a bed, or unable to take care of themselves alone. Since dental wellness affects overall wellness, your care could change their lives.
Dr. Albers Welcomes Your Questions
Because an aging person has specific needs and concerns regarding their dental health, Dr. Albers can guide and treat the process of alleviating tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and all other conditions prior to any worsening of symptoms. Why wait until your teeth and smile suffer? Check out his office in Santa Rosa, CA to see what everyone’s talking about.