Biggest Dental Problems for Seniors
Historically, by the time people reached their senior years, most of them were wearing dentures. With advancements in dentistry, however, people are keeping their teeth longer. While this is good news, as people age they are facing more dental problems. Here are the most common dental issues experienced by seniors.
Tooth decay can occur anywhere on a tooth, including around old fillings and on exposed roots. As people age, tooth roots get softer and become more exposed, making them more prone to cavities.
Good oral hygiene is the best defense against cavities. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day. Using a fluoride rinse is also a good idea. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, helping it to be more resistant to tooth decay.
Saliva is beneficial to oral health. It neutralizes acids and helps wash away bacteria. It also contains minerals that protect and strengthen teeth. Dry mouth is often caused by medications.
The goal with dry mouth is to stimulate saliva production. Try chewing a sugar-free gum. Your dentist can also recommend a saliva substitute.
Red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush is a sign of gum disease. Untreated gum disease typically worsens over time, and can lead to deterioration of the jawbone and tooth loss.
Good oral hygiene is the best way to keep gum disease in check. Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss daily. Additionally, visit your dentist at least every six months for a professional cleaning and oral exam.
The risk of oral cancer increases with age. Smokers and alcoholics have an even higher risk of developing it.
Early detection is key. Overall survival rates are about 50 percent, but those who catch it early have a five year survival rate of 80 percent. A dental exam is the best way to detect oral cancer early, so visit your dentist regularly for one.
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