Taking care of your oral health is important during all stages of life. However, the aging process can bring changes to the teeth and mouth that make it especially crucial to monitor your mouth and dental hygiene during this time.
With the purpose of providing helpful information for our older patients, here are answers to three common questions you might have about aging and dental health.
1. How Do Oral and Dental Health Change Over Time?
As you age, you might notice some changes to your teeth and gums. Though natural, these changes can sometimes cause discomfort and dental complications in older adults.
One common way teeth change with age involves sensitivity. As you get older, the nerves in your teeth can shrink, making them less sensitive to things like temperature and pain from cavities. On the other hand, receding gum tissue could result in heightened tooth sensitivity, as the tooth’s soft root tissue becomes exposed.
Over time, you might also experience other changes with your dental health. A lifetime of wear and plaque buildup can leave your teeth and mouth vulnerable to a number of problems if they’re not cared for properly.
2. What Oral Health Problems Should Older Adults Know About?
The natural changes to the teeth and mouth during the aging process, as well as other shifting factors older adults experience — such as changes in mobility or medications — can increase the risk of developing dental health problems, including:
- Gum disease and periodontitis
- Cavities and tooth decay
- Dry mouth (from medications)
- Oral Cancer
- A requirement for dentures or tooth replacements
In addition, remember that the loss of tooth sensitivity could make it more difficult to notice cavities and other damages when they occur. Older adults are also more likely to have dental health problems that are severe by the time they seek help.
3. How Can You Take Care of Your Dental Health as You Age?
Though aging can increase your risk for certain oral health concerns, it doesn’t mean you should give up on having strong, healthy teeth. If you practice good oral hygiene, it’s possible to keep a healthy set of teeth for a lifetime.
Here are a few things you can do to care for your dental health as you age:
- Brush your teeth at least twice per day
- Floss between your teeth at least once per day
- Take dentures out at night, and clean them daily
- Drink fluoridated tap water if it’s available
- Combat dry mouth with water or artificial saliva
- Visit a dentist for routine checkups, cleanings and cancer screenings
If you have arthritis or another condition that makes brushing and flossing difficult, you might also consider using an electric toothbrush or flossing tool.
Keep Your Teeth Young
Aging can bring new changes to your dental health. However, you can work to keep your mouth feeling healthy by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting a dentist regularly. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, or if you have any questions about aging and dental health, feel free to reach out to us at Dental Choice.