Preventative dentistry has worked so well that we now routinely see people in their 80’s and 90’s with many teeth, if not, a full complement of them. They have had the advantage of good dental care and thankfully, at this time, can chew their food well and enjoy a lifetime of comfortable eating and smiling.
And this is good news as more of us live longer lives. But these golden years can also bring new dental realities and challenges. The habits we had as a child, the treatments we have had in the past, and just aging itself, all combine to change our teeth and mouth. Some older patients have full dentures, or even no teeth at all. But taking care of their mouths is no less important.
At Smiles Nambour we treat patients of every age, but with respect to the differences that the decades can make to dental health. If you are senior, or love a senior, we’d love to see them in our office!
Dental Problems Associated with Ageing
Cavities occur at all ages. A recent study by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, discovered that over 20% of Australians over the age of 55 had untreated cavities. In older people, cavities are found not only in the crown (chewing surface) of the tooth, but also in the root, which may become exposed due to gum recession.
Gum disease is another major oral health issue faced by older people — and it’s presently the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The disease is caused by plaque bacteria, which thrive on the sticky biofilm that clings to the surface of teeth when they aren’t properly cleaned.
Decreased mobility/flexibility due to arthritis or similar conditions can make routine brushing and flossing more difficult. Special brushes with larger grips and floss holders can help make daily cleaning easier. Additionally, therapeutic mouth rinses may be prescribed. In-office treatments can also be effective in bringing gum disease under control.
Oral cancer can occur at any age, but it’s 7 times more likely in someone over the age of 65. Early detection improves survival rates significantly. A thorough screening for oral cancer should be a part of every older person’s routine dental checkup.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) isn’t just an annoyance — it is actually harmful. Saliva contains lubricants, beneficial digestive enzymes, acid neutralizers, and bacteria-fighting agents. It is necessary for good oral health at all ages. A number of factors may cause the body to produce less saliva than normal — but in older adults, this problem is often due to side effects from prescription or over-the-counter medications.
The Mouth-Body Connection
Every day more medical researchers publish reports indicating a strong connection between our oral health and our body, linking periodontal disease and internal disease.
Particularly, a significant body of research has linked periodontal disease to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Gum disease has also been linked to other diseases, including respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, erectile dysfunction, cancer, and some birth problems.
Therefore, treating dental inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.
Taking Control of Your Teeth!
Seeing your Smiles Nambour dentist regularly helps keep your mouth in great shape and gives your dentist a chance to check for developments that may point to general health issues. A dental exam can detect health problems including poor nutrition and hygiene, improper jaw alignment, and signs of a wide range of developing oral and overall health problems.
When visiting your dentist, give them a complete medical history and inform them of any recent health developments, even if they don’t seem related to oral health. Because oral health and general health are so closely tied, your dentist needs to know about both.
Finally, you can improve your oral and overall health by following these practices:
- Eat a nutritious diet to provide essential nutrients (calcium and vitamins A and C, in particular).
- Brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Avoid tobacco products
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Inform your dentist about any medications you use.
- Seeing your dentist immediately if you have unusual oral symptoms including bad breath, mouth sores, red or swollen gums, or a sore jaw.
Quality Care for Everyone at Smiles Nambour
If you need a dental checkup or treatment, it’s critical to find a dentist who offers what you need no matter what your age. At Smiles Nambour we are happy to sit down with you and talk about any treatments you might want or need!
At Smiles Nambour, we provide top-quality dentistry with the help of cutting-edge instruments and caring staff!
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