There is a direct correlation between advancement in age and the frequency in occurrence of dental problems. According to research data from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, over 17% of seniors who are above 65 years get periodontal diseases. In this article, the discussion will focus on the top dental issues faced by seniors and the top tips on how the elderly can maintain great dental health.
Main Types Of Dental Problems For Seniors
The likelihood of dental issues occurring increases as age sets in. According to dental professionals, the most reported cases include:
This refers to the normal wear and tear of teeth that occurs because of day to day actions such as grinding and chewing. These actions usually cause the enamel on the teeth to wear down increasing the risk of cavities.
2. Dry Mouth
As the name suggests, this refers to when the mouth remains constantly dry because of lack of sufficient saliva. This condition mostly occurs in seniors who are taking certain types of medication.
3. Gum Disease
Gum disease usually occurs when there is excess formation of plaque on the teeth and gums. Plaque is a harmful layer of bacteria that forms when one does not brush their teeth after consuming food.
4. Sensitive Teeth
This is a condition that occurs when gums start receding and exposing the parts of the teeth not covered by the enamel to exposure hence causing sensitivity.
5. Root Decay
This condition mostly usually comes after one is afflicted by gum disease. As the gums recede and expose the roots of teeth, the rate of decay usually increases due to lack of protection.
This is a condition where there is an abnormal and excess growth of fungi in the mouth.
7. Oral Cancer
This is the most serious type of dental condition that afflicts most seniors. Oral cancer can mostly be attributed to lifestyle choices. If detected early, it can be treated but late diagnosis can be fatal. The best way to detect oral cancer early is to watch out for symptoms of the disease. If you have any of the symptoms enumerated below for 2 consecutive weeks, you should see a dentist without any delay.
The main symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Spots in the mouth or lips that feel like sores
- A red patch in the mouth
- Difficulty in moving jaws, chewing or swallowing food
- A persistent pain in one ear that is not accompanied with hearing loss
Top Dental Care Tips
Given the high rate of infections among seniors, the importance of quality dental care practices cannot be overstressed. To maintain high levels of oral hygiene, there are some things you can do such as:
- Ensure that you brush your teeth after taking meals. If you cannot do this after each meal, ensure that you brush at least twice daily.
- Floss your teeth at least once in a day
- Use anti-bacterial mouthwash during the day to prevent the accumulation of plaque on gums and teeth.
- Avoid smoking as it increases your chances of contracting oral cancer.
- To lower the risk of cavities and tooth decay, ensure that you cut down on your intake of sugary foods and beverages.
- If you have a dry mouth problem, contact your dentist to get tips on how you can mitigate the condition based on the causal factors.
The best way to maintain great dental health as a senior is to set appointments with your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. If you regularly visit your dentist, they will be able to notice any issues in the early stages of development and advice on the best steps to mitigate the problems.