As we age, there are a number of oral health issues that may crop up. The good news is that there are also ways to prevent these problems from causing long-term damage to your oral health. To help maintain your oral health at any age, make sure you’re taking the proper preventative measures against these common oral health issues:
Certain conditions can make it increasingly difficult to maintain a proper dental hygiene routine as we age— such as arthritis or decreased mobility. Unfortunately, this can cause a number of issues including, most notably, periodontal disease (or gum disease). When our flossing and brushing routines are lacking, the bacteria in plaque can wreak havoc on the gums. While this can start as an infection of the gums known as gingivitis, it can progress to gum disease if left untreated.
How to Prevent: Ideally, the best way to prevent gum disease is to maintain a proper dental hygiene routine. For those with limited mobility, this might include using an electric toothbrush to help minimize the movement required in this process. You should also visit your dentist every six months so as to catch gum disease in its early stages when it is easiest to treat.
When the production of saliva is inhibited, it leads to a condition known as dry mouth. The aging process in itself is not directly linked to this symptom, but instead dry mouth is caused by the medications that are often required as we age. A number of medications list dry mouth as a common side effect, including blood pressure medications, diuretics, antihistamines, and even antidepressants. Chemotherapy and radiation can also cause dry mouth. Unfortunately, dry mouth can lead to a number of issues, including an increased risk of tooth decay and halitosis (or bad breath).
How to Prevent: If you experience dry mouth as a result of any of your medications, be sure to discuss it with your doctor in case another medication is more suitable for you. Otherwise, staying hydrated is critical to prevent the negative effects of dry mouth. You might also consider chewing sugar-free gum with the ingredient called xylitol, which helps to prevent tooth decay.
As we age, we must be on the lookout for gum recession, as this can be quite common among senior citizens. Gum recession can be caused by any number of factors—from years of over-brushing, to bruxism (or teeth grinding), to genetics. Unfortunately, when your gums recede, it can expose the roots of your teeth and make them more susceptible to harmful bacteria and corrosive acids in the mouth, which lead to painful decay.
How to Prevent: Your dentist may recommend any number of treatments depending on the cause and severity of your gum recession. For example, if bruxism is the culprit, a nighttime mouthguard may be the best possible solution. Therefore, it is important to speak with your dentist if you notice your teeth have begun to look elongated. You should also be certain to maintain a thorough dental hygiene routine, including regular flossing, brushing, and rinses with antibacterial mouthwash to help prevent the harmful effects of decay.
Would you like to schedule your next routine dental check-up to ensure you’re in good oral health? Contact Aurora Dental Group today to set up your next appointment!