While Americans are living longer and more fulfilling lives, as we age we do face many common dental conditions. For example, when we get older, the nerves in teeth can become smaller, making your teeth less sensitive to pain caused by cavities or other problems. In turn, if you do not see your dentist regularly for routine checkups, these problems can become worse and lead to even more serious problems like severe infection and tooth loss.
Without question, maintaining good oral health is imperative as we age. Having a healthy smile can make a world of difference for your appearance, self-esteem, and your overall health too. When problems occur in the mouth, they can cause difficulty with chewing, swallowing, speaking, and smiling which are all basic functions we depend on, both physically and socially.
Common Dental Problems Among Aging Adults
Some older adults who are taking certain medications can develop dry mouth, a condition in which there is insufficient production of saliva. A dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease as the harmful bacteria in the mouth is not being flushed away by saliva, so it’s able to flourish, triggering these types of problems.
Gum disease is a serious oral problem that can be made worse by poor-fitting dentures or the presence of certain diseases like diabetes or cancer. Gum disease can also worsen in older adults if a person is not able to maintain good oral hygiene because of problems like decreased mobility due to arthritis, which makes brushing & flossing difficult.
Older adults are more prone to oral cancer than are younger individuals. In fact, oral cancer causes more deaths in older Americans than skin cancer; however, when oral cancer is detected in its early stages, the survival rate is significantly increased. This is why being screened for oral cancer should be an important part of every older individual's routine dental checkup.
Importance of Regular Dental Checkups
Practicing good oral hygiene takes on even more importance as we grow older. By doing a great job of brushing and flossing, you can keep your mouth healthy. But good oral health doesn't stop there, as you also should see your dentist every six months for routine checkups and professional cleanings. This way, if you have any common dental conditions, they will be caught early and treated so they cannot become bigger, more serious problems.