Getting older increases our risk for several health problems, including those with our oral health. Even if you’ve been taking great care of your smile for years, you could still experience an increased risk of tooth and gum problems as you age. Visiting your dentist can keep your smile healthy and ready to shine on throughout your retirement years! What oral health concerns should you watch out for as you age?
Your risk for getting gum disease increases as you age. This is why it’s so important to check in with your dentist. While you may not necessarily notice the signs of gum disease, your dentist will. If you notice bleeding while brushing, sensitive teeth, or red gums, it’s time to visit your dentist because you could be seeing signs of gum disease. Know that your age is a risk factor for getting gum disease!
Our teeth and gums need saliva to stay healthy. Not only does saliva help prevent bad breath and enamel erosion, it also helps balance oral bacteria that can lead to cavities. If you’re on medication, one of the side effects you may be experiencing is dry mouth. Many different types of medications can cause dry mouth, from high blood pressure medications to even depression and anxiety medications.
When you have dry mouth, your body isn’t producing enough saliva to protect your teeth. This can lead to enamel erosion and cavities. Since dry mouth increases your cavity risk, it’s imperative to address this symptom with your dentist or doctor. You may consider switching medications or just sipping on water more often throughout the day!
Losing teeth is not a natural consequence of aging. However, if you’re experiencing gum disease, tooth decay, or even dry mouth, you do have an increased risk for tooth loss as you age. Older adults are also at risk for bone loss, including osteoporosis. Staying active and getting enough calcium and vitamin D are essential to keeping teeth and bones healthy and strong.
If you do lose a tooth, it’s imperative to replace it. Talk with your dentist about your options for missing teeth, which can help prevent further bone and tooth loss!
Although oral cancer can affect anyone, two-thirds of people who have oral cancer are over the age of 55. In fact, people often aren’t diagnosed with oral cancer until they’re 62. This means that older adults have an increased risk of developing oral cancer. Luckily, your dentist can perform an oral cancer screening at your next checkup. This simple screening involves checking your mouth, face, and neck for any unusual lumps or appearances. Early detection can increase your chances of a successful treatment!
Getting older doesn’t have to mean that your oral health declines. However, by being aware of these oral health problems among older adults, you can know your risk for developing gum disease, oral cancer, and having dry mouth or experiencing tooth loss. Getting regular checkups can help prevent and manage many of these problems. Age gracefully and smile big well into your senior years!