Aging is not a cause of oral health issues on its own. Growing older brings you to a period of life where cavities become common for the second time. After a lifetime of excellent oral health, you could find you are affected by cavities for the first time. Cavities are not the only oral health problems facing seniors, with common problems including:
- Dry mouth
- Darkened teeth
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss
By the time you become a senior, you have spent decades consuming stain-causing foods and drinks. As you age, the stains on your teeth become worse. To understand why your teeth grow darker, you need to understand the construction of your teeth. The interior of your teeth is a material similar to a bone called dentin. The outer layer of your teeth is called enamel, which wears down over your lifetime. The breakdown of enamel later in life allows the darker-colored dentin to show through.
The issue of dry mouth is not a natural one. The most common cause of dry mouth is a side-effect of medications. Over 500 medications have dry mouth as one of the listed side-effects, including Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s medications. The development of dental problems in seniors can come from the side effects of medications. Talking to your dentist about the medications you take can help them understand what is causing your dental problems. Medications can also cause long-term problems with a loss of taste and sensation in your mouth.
The diagnosis of oral cancers is most common in seniors. Dental problems caused by oral cancers affect people with an average age of 62 at diagnosis. Regular checkups with your family dentist will help identify oral cancers early and improve the chances of successful treatments. The issue of oral cancer can be difficult to diagnose without regular dental visits. The early stages of oral cancer are not painful or problematic for seniors. Early detection is vital for seniors hoping to avoid dental problems.
Aging can cause several issues for your mouth. Root decay is linked to dental problems following the preceding of your gums. Your gums recede as you age to leave more of the rot exposed. When you consume acidic drinks and foods the root of your tooth will be contaminated by sugars and acids. Unless your teeth are cleaned regularly by your dentists, you run the risk of root decay as you age.
The fungus Candida albicans affects your mouth when your immune system is compromised. The fungus is caused by a yeast infection that is common in seniors. The dental problems caused by thrush include the growth of a fungus on your tongue, throat, and cheeks. The fungus looks similar to cottage cheese and is caused by medications. Your dentist will be able to diagnose and treat thrush when Candida Albicans become overgrown in your mouth and throat.
Gum disease affects seniors in high numbers. Studies estimate as many as 68 percent of seniors suffer from dental problems associated with gum disease. The dental problems you face with gum disease can be linked to several factors. Poor oral hygiene leaves food particles between the teeth that cause gum disease in seniors. Smoking and alcohol use can lead to gum disease occurring later in life. The many medical conditions affecting seniors can cause gum disease issues, with diabetes and anemia being two common causes. Leaving gum disease untreated can lead to damage to the jaw, gums, and ligaments. Long-term damage from gum disease represents one of the most difficult dental problems facing seniors in the 21st-century.
The loss of your teeth is a significant factor in the dental problems facing seniors. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among seniors, with one in five over 65s having lost all their teeth. Tooth loss is linked to several factors, including the side effects of medications and problems with improperly fitting dental bridges. Dentures can play a factor in the development of gum disease and tooth loss in seniors.
Another of the dental problems you face when you neglect your oral health. An uneven jawbone is caused by lost teeth that are not replaced by an implant or dentures. A gap in your smile left unfilled will cause long-term issues. Your teeth will drift and produce large spaces in your mouth that can cause pain for seniors
This condition is linked to the thrush-causing Candida albicans fungus. If you are using ill-fitting dentures you are more likely to be affected by dental problems of this kind. The fungus forms beneath the denture plate and causes painful inflammation of your mouth. Poor dental hygiene can cause this problem that is painful for seniors with dentures.
Factors Associated With Dental Problems in Seniors
Seniors face many life changes when they reach retirement age. Firstly, the health insurance you may have relied on is no longer available to you. Secondly, moving to a fixed income means you will struggle to pay for your oral health appointments.
The factors associated with dental problems include smoking. A person aged 50 or older who smokes is less likely to seek the help of a dentist than one who does not smoke. Smoking is a factor to consider, along with socio-economic issues. Dental problems in seniors are more likely to occur in black and Hispanic groups. Poor oral hygiene is also linked to low-income families who do not have the funds available to complete dental appointments.
Medical issues can lead to difficulties with your oral hygiene. The long-term effects of debilitating conditions can make it difficult for you to keep your teeth and gums clean. Arthritis and rheumatism can cause problems with your hands that make it difficult to hold floss or a toothbrush.
Avoiding Dental Problems
Throughout your life, you will need to take extra care of your teeth to keep them looking good. Dental problems in seniors can take several forms, with oral hygiene important for keeping you from seeing damaged teeth later in life. The same tips that have kept your teeth in good shape throughout your life should be followed as a senior. Seniors should continue to brush their teeth at least twice each day. Using an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day can help limit the development of dental problems. Seniors should not forget about flossing, which needs to be completed once per day.
The effects of liabilities and memory issues can cause dental problems for seniors. The long-term effects of dental problems can damage your overall health. For seniors who are struggling with memory issues, a carer needs to be available to monitor toothbrushing and flossing. Memory issues can add to the dental problems of seniors during retirement.
Long-term dental problems for seniors can be avoided by sticking to a schedule with your dentist. Make sure the dentist you visit will take any insurance you are looking to use. Many seniors change their insurance plan when they retire to reflect a move to a fixed income. Staying current with your insurance and dental visits helps you to remain happy and healthy after retirement.
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