We are faced with a different set of challenges at every stage of life. Your dental health is no different. Just because you were a gold star dental patient as a child or young adult doesn’t give you the chance to slack off as an aging adult. There are specific dental health risks that the elderly population must stay on top of in order to maintain a healthy smile. Whether it is overcoming an oral health side effect from your medication or finding ways to brush your teeth after a loss of dexterity and strength, your dentist can help you establish the necessary preventative measures that can preserve your smile. Here are some common dental health risks to be aware of as an aging or elderly patient.
- Gum Disease
- The risk for gum disease increases with our age. There is also a link, according to recent research studies, that show a link between periodontal disease and osteoporosis. By recognizing the need to prevent and treat early signs of gum disease, you can literally save your teeth. The leading cause of tooth loss is gum disease.
- Dry Mouth
- Many older adults experience dry mouth. There are many health conditions that cause dry mouth and it is very common for dry mouth to be caused by a specific medication you are taking. Although you may simply dismiss this side effect as disruptive or uncomfortable, it can threaten your oral health as well. Dry mouth puts you at risk for gum disease and cavities. Your mouth needs a proper amount of salvia to fight bacteria and neutralize acids. Make sure you tell your dentist if you suffer from dry mouth on a daily basis.
- Poor Hygiene Habits
- The elderly may find it difficult to brush and floss like they used to. Be sure to take note if you or someone you care for has trouble with the dexterity and strength it takes to brush properly. There are many electronic toothbrushes and even electronic flossers that can help aging adults get their oral hygiene routine accomplished more easily and correctly.
- Receding Gums
- Gum recession is a normal part of the natural aging process. However, you can slow the recession of your gums through diligent flossing and brushing. If your teeth become sensitive because of receding gums, you may benefit from a gum graft procedure.
Above all, do not skip your dental appointments. You may need more frequent dental visits to monitor tooth wear, pain and medication side effects as an aging adult. As a caregiver of an elderly patient, you will want to be sure to bring a medication list to assist the dentist. You may also request that the office environment be adjusted to meet the patient’s needs. Turning down any loud music or lowering the blinds can make a big difference in comfort and tolerability for an elderly patient. Group Health Dental is dedicated to making sure patients of all ages are at ease during their dental appointments and they are equipped to diagnose and treat common dental problems in the aging population.