Dental Problems and Aging
Some of the main dental problems that start showing up when you’re getting older:
Well, obviously as something get’s older (like your teeth) more and more things are liable to occur with them. This is why, when speaking about your teeth, regular cleanings and checkups become more and more important. I’m going to go over, briefly, different areas of concern, and why they are a concern as you age.
Tooth Decay: Tooth decay can become a problem at any point in your life, really, but it becomes more and more prevalent later on in life. This particular dental problem is a bit multifaceted; on one hand you could have old dental fillings that, because they ARE old, start to break down and develop new decay around them, or!…because of aging, the roots of your teeth start to get more soft, and exposed, and can therefore develop tooth decay more easily. Fluoride can help curb this this, as it helps to re-mineralize your enamel, which is essentially your teeth’s protective shell.
Dry Mouth: Another dental problem that can arise as you get older is dry mouth. Dry mouth is a problem because saliva is the substance your body uses to help clean your teeth. It helps wash away food particles and bacteria that like to cause cavities. So if you do have dry mouth, you don’t have this washing agent and bacteria can run rampant, eating the food particles on your teeth and make you develop cavities. Medication is often one of the biggest reasons someone can get dry mouth, as well as a blow to the head that somehow interferes or damages your saliva producing glands. You’ll know you have dry mouth due to several different factors: persistent bad breath, metallic taste in your mouth, sticky feeling in your mouth, dry throat, trouble swallowing, and dry, cracked lips, to name a few. In terms of helping to solve this problem, sipping water throughout the day can help as well as chewing xylitol (sugar-free) gum. Your dentist may even prescribe you or suggest to you certain saliva substitutes.
Gum Disease: As far as dental problems go, gum disease is one of the most common. It also gets worse and worse the longer it goes untreated. If your gums are swollen and often bleed, and are sensitive, these are all signs of gingivitis, which is the beginning stage of periodontitis. Periodontitis or gum disease, can actually cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets around your teeth and allowing bacteria to go further down your gums. This in turn can also cause the bone supporting your teeth to resorb (to basically break down). When your bone starts to break down, because of the periodontal disease, you will start noticing that your teeth get looser, and will eventually fall out. You can help prevent gum disease by seeing your dentist regularly as well as brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Flossing is very important in the prevention of gum disease as, it’s often the areas between the teeth (the hardest to clean with a brush spots) that end up causing the most trouble.
Oral Cancer: In terms of dental problems, obviously cancer is pretty severe. Cancer is not a light matter anywhere in the body. The risk of getting oral cancer increases with age and very often linked with smoking and heavy alcohol use. The best thing to do about treating oral cancer is to spot and treat it early. This is why going to your dentist regularly and receiving oral cancer screenings during your checkups can go a long way in successful treatment if oral cancer is found to exist in your mouth.
Tooth Crowding: As you age your teeth can actually begin to shift. This can, of course, affect the aesthetics of your smile, but it can also affect your ability to clean your teeth completely and easily. Being that your teeth become harder to clean, the other dental problems of tooth decay and gum disease become more of an issue.
Yes, as you age, many things in your body have to be taken care of a bit more than when you were younger. Dental problems are no exception. I’ve heard this many times before: “The mouth is a gateway to the health of the rest of your body” or some such variation. To an extent, this is true. Gum disease and tooth decay/infection can impact your overall health as well, so it’s always a good idea to ensure your oral health is being taken care of as well as anything else you’re focused on.
Stay healthy my friends.