Maintaining oral health is crucial for people of all ages, but there are dental health issues that become more of a concern in older patients. As you get older, there becomes an increased need for preventive and restorative dental care. Older patients may regularly use medications for other physical concerns which can affect their oral health. Other medical conditions, including arthritis, can make regular dental care such as brushing and flossing nearly impossible.
For the most common oral health concerns found in seniors, Appleby Dental has put together a list below:
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
A normal amount of saliva produced per day is roughly a quart-and-a-half. Saliva helps to break down food, wash bacteria, prevent the formation of tooth decay and protect against bad breath. When the mouth becomes too dry, problems can arise from minor discomfort to major cavity problems. Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is often caused by medications more often prescribed to seniors. Dry mouth is particularly common in advanced age due to 90% of people over the age of 65 actively taking some form of medication.
Tooth loss is extremely prevalent among senior patients. Patients over the age of 65 have only 18.9 teeth remaining, and 25% of seniors have no teeth remaining at all. This can be the result of smoking, poor dental hygiene or medications. Gum disease can also be a leading cause of tooth loss in seniors. Visiting the dentist regularly can help prevent the chances of losing teeth. There are also other options to preserve a senior’s ability to eat, talk and smile without discomfort, such as a tooth implant.
Root decay, also known as “root cavities,” can spread faster than any other type of cavity, which makes them difficult to treat. When daily brushing and flossing becomes nearly impossible for seniors with chronic pain conditions, root cavities can form quickly. With age, it’s common for gums to recede from the teeth and expose the root surfaces of teeth which leaves them vulnerable to germs.
A natural effect of ageing is noticeable darkening on the teeth. This discolouration can sometimes be inevitable, even with proper dental care maintenance. Tobacco products, caffeine and sodas largely contribute to teeth discolouration. It’s especially important for seniors to keep this in mind and try to take preventative measures that their dentist can suggest.
The risk of developing oral cancer significantly increases after the age of 55. Senior men account for 70% of oral cancers, and the disease is often caused by smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, sun exposure, poor diet or family history of cancer. It can have symptoms of swelling, bleeding gums, numbness and a lump in the neck.
Appleby Dental is committed to providing high-quality, effective dental services to each of our patients. Our dental team ensures comfortable, informative and proper oral health care for senior patients. Our dental checkups and procedures are performed by dental hygienists and assistants that prioritize your comfort, health and happiness.