As we age, our dental needs change. At Hicks Dental Group, we want you to help you with the prevention, maintenance, and treatment of the conditions that come along with these changes related to aging and dental health in Prescott.
Here are five common problems to be aware of:
- Dry mouth. Also known as xerostomia, this affects 30% of patients over the age of 65, and 40% over the age of 80. It is usually the result of medication side effects, but it can also be the result of medical conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s disease. When your mouth is dry, you aren’t going to be producing enough saliva, which can lead to plaque buildup and a more acidic environment in the mouth. These changes in your oral environment can increase the chance for cavities. Dry mouth can also lead to mucositis (painful inflammation of the gums and mouth), cracked lips, and a fissured tongue. The best way to prevent dry mouth is to stay hydrated and to avoid sugary foods, drinks, and alcohol. Chewing sugarless gum can also help keep the mouth moist .
- Dental Caries. Anyone can get dental caries—aka cavities—but seniors are at a greater risk because of gum recession, periodontitis (gum disease), and xerostomia. Sixty-year-olds are twice as likely to get cavities as 30 year olds. How can seniors prevent dental caries? Using a rotating/oscillating toothbrush, a topical fluoride, and seeing us for your regular cleanings are the best ways to prevent cavities .
- Periodontal Disease. Gingivitis is caused by a buildup of plaque that leads to inflammation of the gums. This makes the gums red and swollen and more prone to bleeding. Smoking can also cause gingivitis. The good news is that it can be reversed with good oral hygiene. If it is not reversed, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a serious gum infection that damages the structures supporting your teeth. This can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to cardiovascular disease, poor control of diabetes, diminished wound healing, and aspiration pneumonia. Again, this can be prevented with good oral hygiene!
- Oral Cancer. 75% of oral cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol. These mostly occur in elderly patients. Early identification is key, so make sure to let us know about any recurring sores, ulcers, or color changes in your gums.
- Poor oral hygiene. As we age, our capacity for good oral hygiene often decreases. This is due to things like limited manual dexterity and strength, diminished cognition, and loss of visual acuity. Electric toothbrushes, manual toothbrushes with wide handle grips, and floss holders can help in the case of arthritis. More frequent dental visits may also be necessary in order to keep your teeth in good shape.
As is the case with most things pertaining to health, prevention is the key to dealing with your changing dental needs. Visit us here at Hicks Dental Group soon to discuss your concerns, and let our dentists help you navigate the specific challenges that come with aging and dental health in Prescott!
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