It’s a fact of life – the older you get, the more you have to focus on your overall health, including your dental health. Yes, the human body is a bit like an automobile in that once there’s been enough wear and tear put on it over time, things start to become problematic.
Now that’s not to say that once you’ve officially become a senior citizen you can’t still enjoy many more years of a fruitful, active lifestyle – but, just like an older car, you’re going to need more checkups and maintenance.
With that being said, this post is designed to take a look at some of the common issues that adults over 60 are likely to experience when it comes to dental health.
Perhaps the most common issue in the senior citizen-aged population when it comes to dental health is tooth decay. That is, adults over the age of 60 may be required to get a lot of fillings at this age, at least a lot more fillings than they’re used to having. There are a lot of different reasons for why this is so. For starters, a high-sugar diet or regularly eating the wrong types of foods may have just finally caught up with you. Another common issue that leads to cavities is dry mouth – and this is a common side effect of taking many types of prescription medications, notably those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and pain management. Dry mouth limits saliva, which is crucial in breaking down food and cleaning the mouth. A lack of saliva thereby can help tooth decay.
Nearly half of all Americans have some sort of gum disease. Furthermore, about 70 percent of all seniors ages 60 and over have it. Why? Because gum disease is painless at the early stages, so it’s a condition that can advance and worsen if you’re not regularly seeing your dentist. When gum disease advances, it’s not only very painful, but it can actually destroy the gums and tooth-supporting bones, leading to tooth loss. Regularly seeing the dentist, especially later on in life, is crucial to keeping gum disease at bay.
While oral cancer isn’t as common as gum disease and tooth decay in senior citizens – it’s estimated that about 35,000 new cases are diagnosed each year – the average age of diagnosis is 62. Again, oral cancer is often associated with patients that don’t regularly see the dentist, as part of the regular dental checkup at many practices is an oral cancer screening. What’s more is that oral cancers are very treatable just so long as they’re caught early enough.
As the body takes on more and more mileage, it’s going to need its share of preventative maintenance and repairs. When it comes to dental care, however, the best way to manage issues is to regularly see your dentist at least once every 6 months so that small issues can be taken care of before they escalate into big ones. For more information, contact Caven Dental today.