It has been a longstanding misconception that tooth loss is inevitable. With proper care, teeth can last for your entire lifetime.
As with other parts of the body, aging also brings about changes in the teeth and the mouth.
The most common health issues related to ageing are:
The nerves in your teeth can shrink. This makes the teeth less sensitive to cavities or other dental problems. As a result, unless you don’t get regular dental exams these problems might not be diagnosed until it is too late.
One of the most common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth due to reduced salivary flow. Dry mouth is not a normal part of ageing. However, it is a significant side effect of quiet some medicines taken by the elderly. These include medicines for asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression. This is one of the many reasons reason why it’s important to inform your dentist about any medications that you’re taking.
Older adults have an increased prevalence of gum and periodontal diseases. The gums become swollen, red and bleed easily. The reason why gum disease is so widespread among adults is that they are often painless until the advanced stage. Advanced gum disease can eventually destroy the gums and the supporting structure of the teeth leading to tooth loss.
The average age of diagnosis with oral cancers is 62. There is an added risk if the person is a smoker or chews tobacco. Regular dental visits are important because in the early stages, oral cancer is generally painless. Some of the warning signs include: white or reddish patches, non-healing ulcers, and changes in the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks.
How to maintain good oral health despite the changes due to aging?
Brush twice daily using the proper technique. You could also use an electric toothbrush.
Floss once a day
If you use full or partial dentures, remember to clean them every day. Make sure to remove your dentures at night and place them in water.
Quit smoking and other tobacco use. Besides adding to the risk of lung and other cancers, smoking increases the severity of gum disease, tooth decay and eventually causes tooth loss.
Get regular complete dental check-up.
By making smart choices about healthy oral habits at home, diet and lifestyle changes, and seeking regular dental care; you can have a healthy mouth for a lifetime.