What Are the Effects of Aging on Dental Health?
Aging does not merely change the appearance of your skin or reduce your energy levels to give you the feeling you are getting older, but changes can occur in the cells of your body, tissues, and organs. The changes affect all body parts, including your teeth and gums.
Some health issues are more familiar with the elderly taking medications because it also affects their oral health. Learn how to maintain your teeth and gums healthy when you age here.
How Does Age Affect Your Oral Health?
Some changes occur in your body gradually over time as you age. The tissues lose their elasticity and become thin. Renewal of cells occurs slowly. As a result, your bones lose density and strength. In addition, your immune system becomes weaker, allowing infections to occur more frequently while recovery takes longer.
The changes described above also affect the mouth tissue and bone, increasing the chances of oral health issues later.
Standard Oral Health Problems among the Elderly
The elderly are more at risk of getting affected by xerostomia or dry mouth because of aging, certain medications or health conditions. A dry mouth results in a lack of saliva essential to maintain oral health. Saliva protects the teeth from decay and helps gums remain healthy. When your salivary glands do not produce sufficient saliva, the condition can increase the following risks.
- Problems swallowing, chewing, and tasting.
- Gum disease and tooth decay.
- Yeast infections in the mouth and mouth sores.
While your mouth produces less saliva after you age, medical problems in the elderly are common reasons for this condition. Medicines that help treat high blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, pain and depression reduce saliva production. It is probably the most common reason for dry mouth in the elderly.
Besides the above, side effects of cancer treatment can also result in a dry mouth. In addition, conditions like diabetes, stroke, and Sjogren’s syndrome also affect saliva production.
Receding gums are common in the elderly because their gum tissue pulls away from the teeth exposing the tooth root. The exposure makes it easy for bacteria to build up to cause inflammation and decay.
A lifetime of aggressive brushing and cause gum recession. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is the most common cause of receding gums. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, is entirely preventable. Gingivitis occurs with the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth and beneath the gum line to irritate and inflame them. When gingivitis is left untreated without regular dental exams and cleanings from the Vancouver dentist, it progresses to periodontitis, resulting in tooth loss.
Certain health conditions and diseases common in the elderly make them more vulnerable to periodontal disease. Some include not brushing and flossing daily or getting regular dental care from the dentist near you, smoking, diabetes, weakened immune system, and dry mouth.
Holes on teeth occur when mouth bacteria in the plaque change sugars and starches from foods to acids. The acids erode tooth enamel to cause cavities in them.
Cavities are common in people over 45 and twice as common in men than women. Holes are more common in the elderly as they have retained their teeth for a lifetime. In addition, as older adults have receding gums, tooth decay is likely to occur near the tooth roots. A dry mouth is also a reason for bacteria to build up in the mouth to cause tooth decay.
Oral cancer is common in people over 45 and affects men more than women.
Smoking and other versions of tobacco use are the most common reasons for developing oral cancer. Alcohol uses excessively with tobacco significantly enhances the risk of oral cancer. Other factors that increase oral cancer risks include human papillomavirus infections, poor dental hygiene, taking medicines that affect the immune system, and edges from rough teeth, dentures, or fillings over an extended period.
How Can the Elderly Take Care of Teeth and Gum Health?
Excellent dental care is essential regardless of age to keep the teeth and gums healthy. The dental clinic in Vancouver, BC, suggests the following steps to maintain excellent health of the teeth and gums.
- Brush twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush.
- Floss once, regardless of the time.
- Visit your dentist for regular exams and cleanings.
- Avoid sweetened and starchy foods and beverages, or limit them.
- Quit tobacco use and smoking.
If medications result in a dry mouth, you can discuss the matter with your healthcare provider to inquire whether you can change the medicines. In addition, you can discuss artificial saliva or other products that help keep your mouth moist with the Vancouver dentist.
As can be seen, age also impacts your teeth and mouth, making you vulnerable to various afflictions. Therefore you must care for your oral and dental health appropriately without exceptions.
If you are over 45 and affected by oral health issues, Enhance Dental Center can help you manage and overcome the problems. Kindly arrange a meeting with them today to discuss your situation and receive essential treatment as soon as possible.