A common misconception by many people is that as we get older the worst of our dental problems are behind us. After all, if we were going to get a cavity it probably would’ve happened by now, right? Well, in actuality, senior citizens are often at a greater risk of running into problems with their teeth than other patients. Though it’s not always fun to recognize it, if you’re getting older there are some important things you should keep in mind to keep your teeth around for as long as possible.
Dental Care Tips for Seniors
- Cavities Can Be More Common for Seniors — For a number of reasons, the prevalence of cavities is higher in seniors than it is among younger demographics. For one, as you get older your gums begin to recede a bit, meaning that there is more tooth and the (less thick) root is exposed, putting your teeth at a higher risk of decay. Likewise, a common problem amongst older patients is dry mouth and the decreased production of saliva—a key deterrent against tooth decay.
- Teeth May Become More Sensitive — As already mentioned, gums will recede some as we age. A side effect of this is the increased exposure of the roots of your teeth. The roots tend to be more sensitive than the crown of the tooth, meaning that while brushing, eating or exposed to hot/cold stimuli your teeth may be extra sensitive. There are several potential treatment options including tissue grafts, fluoride treatments or switching to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
- You Might Not Brush As Well — It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as we grow older our strength isn’t quite what it used to be. For senior citizens it can be difficult to brush the same way you did when you were 20. For many, a great solution is to invest in an electric toothbrush; a choice that will do most of the work for you.
- Increased Rate of Oral Cancer — Again, another unfortunate fact of life that the risk of cancer increases as get older. Oral cancer is most common in smokers and those who frequently drink alcoholic beverages, but can happen to anyone. If you notice any sort of abnormal lesions or tumor-like structures, contact your doctor, dentist or other health professional.
- Keep Going to the Dentist! — As obvious as it may sound, you need to continue going to the dentist throughout your life. Even if you no longer have any permanent teeth, it is still a good idea to have your dentist examine you at regular appointments.
If you have any further questions on how age can affect the status and treatment plan of your teeth, or would like to schedule an appointment, contact the Lakeway Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry today.