Common Dental Problems Faced By Senior Citizens
Senior citizens are at more risk for oral and dental problems than any other demographic. Older adults tend to be more prone to cavities, hence so it is imperative that they or the people caring about them know the special oral challenges they face and what can be done about them.
In this article, we will go through some of the common dental problems faced by seniors.
Dry mouth is a common phenomenon often occurring in old age. It is often the result of side effects of certain medications or treatments such as cancer treatment or radiation, or medical conditions such as diabetes. It can also be caused by Sjögren’s syndrome which is an immune system disorder. Since saliva protects the mouth from bacteria and provides the teeth with protective minerals, it is important that people with this condition visit the dentist for strategies on how to keep the mouth clean.
Gum disease is caused by plaque developing and hardening into tartar along the gumline of the teeth. Bacteria continues to grow in the tarter and eat away at both tooth and gum tissues. The gums turn red and swelling occurs. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to complete destruction of gums and teeth.
Decayed or Darkened Teeth
Two other things that happen to varying extents when a person gets old even if proper dental care is maintained is the gums begin to recede from its place and the outer layer of enamel can begin to thin.
Receding gums increase the risks of decay of the root, since roots don’t have a protective enamel covering. Thinning enamel allows more of the yellowish dentin to show through, giving teeth a slightly yellow color and leaving inner portion of teeth less protected against the mouth environment.
The above-mentioned problems can lead to the loss of one or more teeth and that can cause further problems. This may include uneven jawbone, shifting and drifting of the remaining teeth into open spaces, and malnutrition since a person is unable to chew properly.
What Can Be Done About This?
First of all, appropriate daily care of teeth and mouth has to be a priority. Timely brushing and flossing is necessary. At least twice a day, but ideally after every meal for brushing, and at least once a day for flossing. If a person can’t brush properly due to dexterity issues, then electric brushes are a viable option. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush with a fluoride-based toothpaste. If someone has a dry mouth problem, keeping it moist with fruits and vegetables and plenty of fluids should also be made part of the daily dental care routine.
Dana Keith DDS is dedicated to treating your teeth and smile with regular dental check-ups and preventive care. We are here for you. Call Dana Keith DDS now at (301) 236-9000 to schedule an appointment.