Do you think your dental health will naturally deteriorate in old age? Well, some oral health problems are linked with aging it is not necessary that all of it will worsen.
Don’t fear losing teeth if you have maintained good oral hygiene throughout your life.
Thus, you do not necessarily need dentures if you have been diligent and still are with your health.
This article discusses how you can maintain your oral health and what dental health problems can emerge as you age.
Keep reading to know how you can handle those by maintaining good habits and oral health.
Changing Dental Health with Old Age
Wear and Tear
Your teeth naturally wear down as you age because of the chewing pressure.
Thus the wearing down can make them more sensitive and prone to cavities.
This can also cause pain and your dentist can check if the tooth needs extraction.
As the tooth enamel wears down by the chewing action, it can put you at risk of decay. However, you are not more at risk of decay as you get older.
Rather, the highest risk is in infants and teenagers. As the adult dentition comes in place after the baby teeth, you are not exactly free but less prone to cavities.
That said, you are susceptible to root cavities. The tooth’s root surface is under the cover of gums.
Due to dry mouth or other conditions reducing the salivary flow, lesions can form on this surface resulting in root caries.
Other than that, decay can also occur on prior dental work that is not well looked after.
Oral Cancer and Growth of Lesions
A regular dental checkup is as necessary when you are older as it is when you are young.
This can help you identify cancerous growths and lesions in the early stages.
In fact, the risk of oral cancer increases with age due to your lifestyle factors and regularly following unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
The risk of gum disease does increase with age. It can soon get worse leading to tooth extraction.
Hence, you need to be vigilant when it comes to caring for your mouth and gum health.
Technically, if you take care of your oral health you are not as much at risk of losing teeth.
If gum disease persists for longer then the infection can worsen leading to subsequent tooth loss.
Conditions Responsible for Affecting Oral Health in Old Age
Taking several medications can affect the mouth’s ecology.
Salivary production can significantly reduce therefore making your mouth parched and dry.
This not only increases your thirst but also affects the number of bacteria inside the mouth.
When there is less saliva it cannot wash away the food particles, debris and bacteria. Thus, giving the bacteria a chance to exploit your teeth.
Besides, that saliva contains, minerals and immune cells that protect teeth. Calcium is an important mineral in the process of remineralizing teeth.
It is present in the saliva and helps to maintain your teeth in good condition and a balance with the bacteria.
However, medications are not solely responsible for a dry mouth. There can be a short-term lack of saliva production due to unhealthy habits.
For instance, eating carbohydrates, sucking on a sugary lollipop and candies can constantly expose your mouth to acids. As a result, the mouth gets drier and the teeth are under the attack of bacteria.
Therefore, if you cannot skip your medications that cause dry mouth, you can at least monitor what you eat and drink
A link is observed between heart disease and gum disease. This stems from severe periodontal disease resulting in a heart attack.
Since it is more common in the elderly, this oral health risk can cause serious health problems.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes affects the immune system. Hence, it can also affect the mouth’s ecology and ability to fight infections worsening oral health.
Since it is more common in the elderly it risks other dental health conditions.
Poor dental health can worsen your physical health and vice versa. Apart from these, cancer is also linked to worsening oral health with age.
Hence, let your dentist know of any health problems beforehand.
Medication Side Effects on Oral Health
When you get older you may have to take medications for some health problems. One of the major side effects of certain medications is dry mouth.
Due to that, the salivary production does decrease to a point whereby you get cavities and decay.
The examples of medicines that can affect your oral health include:
The medicines for Parkinson’s disease can cause a dry mouth. It reduces saliva production from the salivary glands.
Therefore, the enamel does not remineralize often and the lack of saliva gives bacteria the leeway to accumulate feeding on food particles.
Medications for high blood pressure can drastically reduce salivary production.
These antihypertensive drugs can also give a dry sensation without significantly impacting your saliva flow.
These reduce the reaction of neural cells in your mouth. As a result, saliva production from the salivary glands decreases.
Thus, the risk of cavities increases.
However, people who take anti-depressants for mental health illnesses such as depression are also at a greater risk of getting root decay.
They affect bone turnover.
Hence, if you get a tooth extraction, taking these drugs can result in complications for example osteoradionecrosis.
Hence, if you take any medications, let your dentist know prior to your treatment so that they can identify the cause of your oral health problem.
Along with your teeth, your gums also change as you age.
They can recede over time exposing the root surface. This surface does not have any enamel to protect it from sensitivity.
Besides that, this exposed root surface is also more prone to root caries due to the lack of enamel.
And also there is a risk of gum disease.
Therefore, you need to take care of both your teeth and gums. Let’s find out how!
Taking Care of Oral Health in Old Age
Your oral care starts from what you consume. A healthy diet and lifestyle habits are at the core of maintaining good oral hygiene that lasts a lifetime.
- Eat a healthy diet that boosts the immune system and introduces good bacteria to your body
- Quit smoking and drinking to lessen your risk of cancer, infections and allergies
- Reduce your intake of starchy and sweet foods plus drinks
Caring for your dental health is a lifelong process. If you have done so in the past then you will see the results in the present and the future.
Hence, maintain a healthy diet by eating immune-boosting foods such as garlic, leafy green and coconut oil.
They can protect you from oral infections and other oral diseases as your immunity increases.
Vitamin D3 improves immunity as well as mental health. You can simply get it by sunbathing for a while or taking a walk in the day.
Plus, add fermented foods such as probiotic yogurt, fermented cheese, butter and other dairy products, kimchi or miso.
As you increase immunity through foods, decrease unhealthy habits that lower your immunity.
Smoking is one of these whereby it reduces oxygen in your blood and decreases your immunity causing harm to oral tissues.
The harm can worsen as you age, so quitting smoking as well as drinking is the best way to prevent oral cancer and other health problems such as gum disease in the future.
Other than that, limit sugary and starchy foods regardless of your age. These aren’t great for your teeth.
If you want to stay away from cavities, then only take an adequate amount of sugar daily and try to cut out processed carbohydrates as much as possible.
Maintaining Good Dental Health
At every point of your life brushing and flossing is absolutely necessary.
Follow your oral hygiene routine daily without skipping any day.
Thus, protecting your oral health from tooth decay, gingivitis, plaque and gum disease.
If brushing and flossing are harder because of dexterity issues, make use of the dental tools that can help you in this regard.
Choose an electric brush and water flosser in order to eliminate plaque and unhealthy bacteria.
Also, clean your dentures properly and report immediately to your dentist if they are unfit.
Take a note of the longevity of your implants, fillings and crowns. They have a lifespan and may need replacements.
That said, visit your dentist often in order to keep your oral health in check.
As you age, you may have dark teeth, tooth sensitivity, lack of sense of taste, gum disease and more.
You can treat these conditions timely and get treatment if you keep visiting your dentist.
Such as teeth whitening, fillings, crowns, veneers, implants, bridges and more.
Thus, address problems with your teeth immediately so that they are not as impacted.
Alongside eat well, follow your dental routine, drink more water and rinse with mouthwash occasionally.
All of this will keep your teeth and smile healthy no matter what your age.
Hence, follow through with good oral hygiene throughout your life but especially in old age.