As people age, they are often confronted with more and more health issues. In the process, they may find it difficult to keep up with their burgeoning health problems and may begin to ignore small things, like the maintenance of oral health and hygiene.
The following are some of the dental problems that may confront older adults:
- Dry mouth – Dry mouth occurs when the flow of saliva is reduced. Saliva is an important protection against the bacteria and debris buildup in the mouth. Medications may cause dry mouth as can radiation therapy in the neck and head areas.
- Darker smile – The teeth become darker as a result of the thinning of the enamel and consumption of food and drinks that stain the teeth. Some of the offending drinks include coffee, tea, and wine. Adding milk to your tea or coffee can mitigate teeth stains. Teeth whitener could remedy minor cases of stained teeth, but serious cases may require cosmetic dentistry.
- Decay along the roots – People who do not take care of their oral hygiene are prone to have recession of gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Portions of the tooth’s root will be exposed when the gums recede. Exposed roots make the teeth more vulnerable to decay.
- Change in taste – Medications, disease, and dentures can alter a person’s taste. This is a common experience that is associated with the aging process.
- Periodontal disease – Gum disease, while affecting people of all ages, is more prevalent among older adults. Periodontal disease progresses slowly and often worsens with advanced age. Effective dental hygiene can prevent or slow the progression of periodontal disease.
- Tooth loss – A tooth may fall out for a variety of reasons, including trauma, periodontal disease, and untreated tooth decay. Replacing a lost tooth with an implant or a bridge will prevent a person’s bite from shifting.
- Temporomandibular joint disorder – This is a slowly accelerating disorder that may be seen more in older adults than younger individuals. It is characterized by the break down of the disc and the bones due to bad habits, such as teeth grinding.
- Denture-induced stomatitis – This dental problem refers to inflamed tissues beneath dentures when they do not fit properly, accompanied by poor hygiene.
It is never too late to prevent or mitigate dental health issues. Be pro-active by brushing twice daily, flossing at least once a day, and using alcohol-free mouthwash. Also, see your dentist regularly for check-ups.