When you think of older people and seniors, you may automatically assume they wear dentures. In fact, all the elderly people in your life have dentures. Losing one’s teeth may be a natural part of aging in your eyes. As much as dentures scare and repulse you, you’re certain that when you get to be well advanced in years like them, you too will be confined to wearing them. You think all older adults have dentures.
While dentures are seen by most as a rite of passage into one’s twilight years, there is something to be said for the deterioration of one’s oral health as we age. It makes sense that over many years of living and getting used, our teeth, gums and other tissues and components of the mouth will wear down.
How does the condition of one’s mouth deteriorate to the point where dentures are needed? Well, there are a lot of changes that occur in the mouth as one ages. Below are some of the more common dental health issues one may expect to experience with age:
Receding Gums. Many older patients have receding gums, making their teeth look longer. Sometimes receding gums are the result of age. Years of aggressive brushing and untreated gum disease, periodontitis, are other common causes of receding gums. In these cases, the effects and symptoms aren’t noticed until advanced stages of gum disease.
Worn Down and Weakened Teeth. Many years of biting and chewing as well as being exposed to various kinds of sugary, acidic drinks and sugary, sticky, starchy foods can wear down the enamel of teeth. The tooth enamel is the hard, outer layer of the tooth, that protects the tooth pulp and roots and gives teeth the white color. When the enamel is compromised, teeth can become worn-down and weakened. Teeth become more brittle and susceptible to chipping and breaking.
Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is more than uncomfortable, it can also put one’s oral health at risk. Dry mouth is common in seniors as their saliva gland produces less saliva. Saliva is the body’s natural mouthwash, rinsing out the mouth of food particles and keeping the accumulation of germs, bacteria and plaque at bay. When there isn’t enough saliva, as in the case of dry mouth, and environment more favorable for plaque and bacteria accumulation is created. This in turn, increases one’s risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Lost Teeth. Many elderly patients have a hard time properly cleaning their teeth, especially if they have limited mobility due to arthritis. Because of this, seniors are at a higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Untreated gum disease and tooth decay can lead to lost teeth. Periodontal disease, the most severe form of gum disease can also lead to the weakening of the jaw bone tissue, which can lead to the loss of additional teeth.
Solutions to Prevent of Lower the Risk of Future Dental Problems
While you won’t be able to do anything to stop the aging process and all the dental problems associated with aging, there are some solutions to either prevent some future oral health issues or slow the progression of a current dental problem. Other solutions can lower your risk of getting some of the aforementioned dental issues:
- Avoid chewing hard foods such as nuts and ice.
- Practice good at-home oral hygiene which includes brushing and flossing.
- Drink plenty of water and cut back on medications.
- Cut back on sugary, acidic drinks and starchy foods.
- Quit smoking, limit drinking and use sunscreen lip balm.
- Practice good oral hygiene, both at home and with regular, six-month professional teeth cleaning and oral examination.
- Get your dental issue looked at and treated promptly and early by our dentist.
At Marshall, Shofner & Phan Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry, we offer a wide range of preventative, restorative and cosmetic dental procedures to help patients preserve, recover and enhance their beautiful smiles.
We also offer dental treatment for children as we believe that the sooner a child is taught proper dental hygiene, the lower their risk of getting dental problems later in life. Whether our patient is two or ninety-two, our dental professionals will work hard and do all we can to give each patient a healthy and beautiful smile that will last many years.
If you’re looking for a dentist or haven’t seen us in over six months, contact us today to schedule and appointment. The quicker and more proactive you are with your dental health, the less of a chance you’ll wind up as a senior wearing dentures.