Older adults, defined as 65 years of age or older, are much more susceptible to dental health issues than younger generations. Of course we know the effect of old age on health, but we sometimes forget to take general dental care into account as we prepare for older age and tackle the health care that comes with it.
If you or a loved one falls into this demographic, it is better to acquire as much information as possible to prevent problems before they occur or get worse. Talk to your general dentist the next time you’re in for an appointment to set yourself up for lasting oral health.
Reasons to see a general dentist in old age
When we get older, our dental care should become a primary importance. Not only does the natural process of aging tend to diminish our oral health, but the medications we take also have an adverse effect on dental hygiene. In particular, we are more susceptible to tooth and gum decay as we age.
Increased risk for root decay
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), older adults are much more susceptible to root caries. Located where the tooth meets the gum, root caries are lesions located on the tooth’s root. These lesions can be both painful and detrimental to overall dental health. As our life spans are increasing, the occurrence of root caries are more common because we keep our teeth for much longer.
To prevent root caries from occuring in the first place, a good oral health routine can make a world of a difference. This includes brushing with a rotating or electric toothbrush, using a daily fluoride mouthwash, and eating a healthy diet for your teeth. Seeing a general dentist for regular checkups is also standard for a good oral health care routine, so make sure to schedule an appointment (even if it’s been a few years!)
Prevalence of dry mouth
Dry mouth might not seem like a serious health concern, but it becomes increasingly common in patients older than 65 years of age. Dry mouth, also called Xerostomia, can result from medicines and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Left untreated, dry mouth can lead to root caries, cracked lips, and split tongues.
Dentists recommend limiting alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and high-sugar beverages, and substituting them instead for water.
General dentist tips for aging
Luckily, there are easy strategies we can adopt now and in old age to keep our teeth healthy. Implement these dental hygiene tips, according to the ADA:
- Brush: Brush your teeth at least twice per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can also help to prevent root caries, as they clean the gum line effectively.
- Floss: Floss at least once a day.
- Clean dentures: Clean dentures on a daily basis. Best practice is to take them out of your mouth for at least four hours a day and remove them at night.
- Drink tap water: Drinking any kind of water is better than drinking sugary beverages, but tap water is the most beneficial. Tap water contains fluoride which strengthens teeth.
- Stop smoking: Quitting smoking is of course a great step for general health, but it especially promotes strong oral health. Smoking is linked to gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and mouth and throat cancers.
- Visit your general dentist: Regular dental check-ups can ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Depending on your oral health, you can get x-rays and seek dental treatment for any issues you might have.
If you are a caretaker for an older loved one, help them by reminding them to brush their teeth and floss daily. This can be difficult, though, depending on your loved one’s level of independence. Feel free to contact our general dentist office today if you have any questions about caring for an older person.
Estrella Dental in Chula Vista
As a general dentist office in Chula Vista, Estrella Dental provides dental care to the entire family. We are committed to providing excellent dental treatment to all members of the Chula Vista community, and we are happy to treat toddlers and grandparents alike.
Schedule an appointment online today at our dental office in Chula Vista.