Getting older affects overall health and dental health, and it’s extremely important to ensure you maintain a good oral care routine. Otherwise, the risk of gum recession and failing teeth can lead to tooth loss. Anyone who has lost teeth will know it is a miserable experience, affecting your self-confidence and ability to eat comfortably and speak clearly, impacting your sense of well-being.
Luckily, getting older doesn’t mean you will suffer from poor oral health. Biannual dental visits can help identify potential problems, hopefully before you notice anything wrong. We always provide customised preventive dental care plans for our patients, and as you get older, we can adjust this plan to ensure you maintain optimal oral health year-round.
Read on to discover how getting older affects your teeth and gums and why good oral care is essential.
What Happens to Your Oral Health As You Age?
As you age, your skin becomes thinner and less elastic, and this also affects your oral tissues, including your gums. Teeth can become more fragile while bones can also weaken, losing density, especially amongst adults susceptible to osteoporosis. Your immune system may not work as well as when you are younger, so it is harder to fight infection, and you take longer to heal. Additionally, many older people have chronic conditions and require medications or treatments that can affect oral health.
Xerostomia or dry mouth is extremely common amongst older adults and can negatively impact dental health. It is a condition where people cannot produce enough saliva, an essential fluid that helps keep your mouth clean, moist and comfortable, washing away loose food particles, plaque and bacteria. Bacteria can thrive when your mouth is dry, increasing your risk of dental diseases, including infections, tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease.
Often, dry mouth is due to side effects of medications or treatments. It can also occur if someone has chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes or who has needed medical treatments like radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.
If you have dry mouth, we can work with you to help reduce the impact on your oral health. For example, you may benefit from more frequent dental checkups and cleans to reduce the risk of disease. We can also suggest other ways to help keep your mouth moist and comfortable such as using saliva substitutes or making some easy lifestyle changes.
Gum disease can affect anyone at any age but is more prevalent in older people. It is a bacterial infection that is often the result of poor oral care. Unfortunately, severe gum disease can result in tooth loss and increases the risk of general health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases and dementia. The good news is that gum disease is easily treatable when caught early, which is why your regular checkups are so important. We can also offer useful advice on how to clean your teeth thoroughly, especially if it becomes harder to manipulate an ordinary toothbrush due to loss of dexterity.