The Most Common Dental Issues Among Seniors and How to Prevent Them

Developing issues with your teeth as you age isn’t because you’re suddenly slacking in your dental hygiene. It’s simply part of the aging process, and unfortunately, a reality that we all experience when we reach our golden years. At Cherry Family Dental, Drs. Misty Henne and Chloe Chu and their expert team understand the struggles seniors have with their oral health and can guide them in the best preventative measures. 

Some of the most common oral problems as you age include: 

Let’s take a closer look at these dental issues and why you’re at risk as a senior.

Dry mouth is a common dental issue among seniors

Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is caused by a reduction of saliva in the mouth. The main reason for this among seniors is side effects from medication or symptoms of illnesses like diabetes and Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Dry mouth can be quite damaging to your teeth. Saliva serves as a protective barrier by keeping sugars and acids away from the enamel. It also helps to fight cavity-causing bacteria too. Severe tooth decay can occur when the mouth is too dry, so eating sugar-free candy to keep those salivary glands active can be a good way to prevent this, along with regular mouth rinsing and even artificial saliva.

Gum disease can strike at any age but particularly as we advance in years

It’s been found that 70% of Americans older than 65 have gum disease, which is more than any other age group. This can come as a surprise if you’ve been maintaining a perfect smile your whole life and received nothing but praise from your dentist until now. Causes of gum disease include:

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and receding gums, so cutting down on smoking, reducing stress in your life, and ensuring you’re on the right medication is important. A gum shield or mouthguard can reduce teeth clenching and grinding as you sleep. Dr. Henne and her team can evaluate if a gum shield or mouthguard might be a good option for you.

The risk of oral cancer increases with age

Aging automatically puts you at an increased risk of developing oral cancer (HPV), along with smoking and the use of tobacco products. A common symptom of oral cancer is a sore developing in your mouth that won’t go away. If you notice this, it’s important to see Dr. Henne and get treatment right away.

To minimize your risk of developing oral cancer, quit smoking or cut down as much as you can, and make sure you see us for regular check-ups for early detection.

Teeth become less resilient as we age and staining can occur more easily

If you’ve noticed that seniors tend to have stained teeth, then you’d be right, and this is another effect of aging on teeth. The enamel of our teeth thins over time, exposing the dentin underneath, which is naturally yellow in appearance. As you age, your teeth also become less resilient to the staining properties of caffeine, fruit juices, and tobacco.

Before investing in over-the-counter whitening toothpaste or products, which can be abrasive and damaging to your teeth, come see us at Cherry Family Dental where we can discuss all options available to you, including cosmetic teeth whitening.

Taking good care of your teeth is always important in preventing dental issues from affecting you as you age. If you’d like some advice on simple changes you can make to your dental hygiene and lifestyle, request an appointment today by calling our office.

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