According to a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, the number of elderly Americans keeping their teeth into old age is increasing. However, because they are keeping their teeth they are more likely to have dental issues arise. The best thing to do is encourage older relatives to continue making regular dentist visits. The most common problems plaguing those in old age include:
Tooth decay. Cavities and tooth decay don’t just affect the young. Even for those who have kept their teeth in great shape throughout the years might find themselves suffering from tooth decay. As people age, the roots of their teeth become softer and can be exposed. This means that older people might get them near fillings in their mouth as these wear out. Fluoride, however, can be a great protector if a prescription gel is used. Those suffering from tooth decay should contact us to see if we can prescribe a fluoride supplement.
Dry mouth. Saliva is the body’s natural defense against a buildup of harmful bacteria. But by not producing saliva, your teeth could be at risk and become demineralized. Dry mouth is often caused by a combination of prescriptions, and in old age people often take more medications. To stimulate saliva production drink more water and chew sugar-free gum. If those aggravate sensitive teeth you might also be able to ask for an over-the-counter saliva substitute prescription.
Gum disease. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is treatable, but can easily progress. Elderly Americans often miss the first signs and by the time they are diagnosed with gum disease it is too late. Be on the lookout for swollen, red, or easily bleeding gums. Regular dentist visits will take care of the problem and a dentist can spot any signs of periodontitis and clean the teeth accordingly.
Oral cancer. Oral cancer is a huge killer that has an estimated mortality rate of 8,000 people per year in America. Oral cancer is increasingly found in older patients, often as the result of heavy smoking and alcohol use throughout a person’s lifetime. The number of cases is also increased because HPV can cause oral cancer. This is why it is so important for elder people to continue to visit the dentist because the best chance of beating the disease is finding it in its earliest stages. You will be checked for oral cancer during an examination, so call us today so we can ensure that you and your loved ones will not be affected by this killer.
If you have other questions about how to protect your teeth at an elderly age or the teeth of someone close to you call our office. It can be difficult to figure out oral health on your own, but the team at Greenspoint has answers that we would love to share with you.