Statistics from several decades ago were pretty grim. By the time Americans reached approximately 65 years of age, over a third of them had lost most of their teeth. Today, that number is lower, though roughly the same percentage over the age of 67 are missing at least one or two teeth. The fact is, aging teeth do need special attention, partly as a result of age, but also because of everything that has happened to one’s teeth up to this point.
Cavities continue to be a problem over the age of 50, even for teeth that have never been a problem before! Old fillings or the roots of your teeth are hot spots for cavities, because as we age, the roots of our teeth become softer and sometimes gum disease has left teeth more exposed now than in younger adulthood. In fact, now is the time that poor habits begin to really catch up with our oral health. Gum disease, in particular, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and leads to infection; left untreated, eventually the teeth themselves can fall out.
More Than Gum Disease
One of the truths of aging is that we are usually on more medications than we were as younger people. This can lead to side effects that are a bit more than a nuisance, such as a dry mouth. Why more than a nuisance? Because our saliva protects our teeth from decay and a loss of minerals. Years of smoking can also lead to a dry mouth. Don’t always rely on thirst to predict whether you have this issue; not everyone with the symptoms of dry mouth experience thirst.
Fortunately, you can still remain proactive as an older adult and maintain the health of your teeth for as long as possible. Fluoride is a critical step to ensure that your teeth are as healthy as possible – and don’t just rely on the water to provide you with everything you need. Talk to your dentist about regular fluoride rinse treatments. Sip more water or ask for an over-the-counter formula to increase your saliva.
Paradoxically, the longer one keeps one’s teeth, the more likely problems will arise! This is why maintaining regular visits to the dentist is so important. Regular checkups will not only ensure that you are practicing good oral hygiene, but it will enable you to establish a relationship with your dentist so that any changes in your oral health due to aging are caught – and treated – immediately. Keep that smile as long as you can!
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you want to make an appointment with one of our dentists in central Arkansas, contact us today at 501-725-0616.