Someone once said, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” How true! While it can be frustrating to watch your health change as you age, you don’t have to accept poor oral health and tooth loss as just an inevitable part of the aging process. Your oral health is just as important now as it has ever been, and it has a great deal to do with your overall health and wellness. When it comes to senior dentistry and oral health, your Dansville dentist Dr. James Vogler shares the top concerns you may have, and how to address them.
A shocking 70% of adults over 65 years of age have gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among seniors. Gum disease is your body’s way of trying to kill germs that infect and inflame gum tissues. Chronic exposure to inflammation in the body quadruples your chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life, according to the American Dental Association.
After your baby teeth are gone, you only get one adult set of teeth to last the rest of your life. Preventing gum disease and oral cancer will boost your chances of keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible, hopefully for life. You don’t want to lose your teeth – and you don’t have to!
Even with the most diligent oral hygiene, tooth loss is very common and nothing to be ashamed of. Tooth replacement options have improved greatly with current advances in restorative dentistry. Depending on your individual case, bridges, dentures, or dental implants may be able to restore your smile back to its full, healthy condition, allowing you to eat, speak, and enjoy life with ease. These dental enhancements will need to be cleaned and cared for in similar ways to your natural teeth, and your dentist can help you make the adjustment to caring for them properly.
If a full life has aged your smile, you may also be interested in veneers, which instantly and easily give you a youthful smile again.
People over 40 years of age have a much higher risk of developing oral cancer. Seeing the dentist twice a year and receiving regular oral cancer screenings is very helpful for detecting early signs for your best chance at survival and recovery. Prevent oral cancer by quitting (or never starting) tobacco and alcohol. These substances are not healthy for the cells in your mouth (or any other part of your body).
Diabetes and some medications can cause dry mouth (xerostomia). Saliva is very important for keeping your mouth healthy and functioning. Dry mouth is common and can lead to increased tooth decay. Talk to Dr. Vogler if your mouth feels drier than it should, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Poor oral health can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and some older adults struggle with caring for their oral health with everyday hygiene like brushing and flossing. Your dentist cares about every aspect of your health and can help you come up with a plan to improve your overall health and wellness. Be sure to share all your health concerns anytime you see the dentist.
Taking care of your teeth is important at every age. Kids from 1 to 92 should:
Your oral health can positively (or negatively) impact your overall health; it also can serve as a mirror to reflect problems going on elsewhere in your body. Caring for your teeth, gums, and mouth will increase the likelihood that your body remains strong and vital during a season of life with so much to look forward to.