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8 Dental Challenges Older Adults Face

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Are your teeth not looking so white anymore? As time goes by, they show signs of wear and tear. We often expect a lot of out of our teeth, even though we chew, grind, and clench them. And for all practicable purposes, they do a great job for us, but they're also affected by age.

We're living much longer than our teeth intended to, so we've got to take better care of them. And as we age, we're more likely to face dental challenges.

Here's a look at 8 dental problems that arise with age:

1. Cavities
Cavities creep up on us slowly, but they enlarge with time when left untreated. And since cavities don't pain in the beginning, it can be difficult for you to understand that a problem actually exists. Regular visits to your dentist are vital to check how much the cavities have spread so that they can be treated early.

2. Acid Erosion
One of the biggest ways teeth are affected by age is through acid erosion. And the biggest culprits, of course, are your sugary and starchy foods. Carbohydrates ferment the bacteria, which releases acid, causing tiny pits in your teeth and eventually leads to decay. So go easy on sugary foods. Sports drinks are actually the worst. The carbonation in sugary drinks increases the acid in your mouth.

3. Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Periodontitis is a result of bacteria in dental plaque. Plaque starts building up soon after you've brushed your teeth. When an attempt is made to remove bacteria, the cells of your immune system release substances that contribute to inflamed and damaged gums. And thus, the periodontal ligament or alveolar bone is impaired. And this results in swollen and bleeding gums which is a sign of gingivitis.

4. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer consists of cancers of the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips. If you have red or white spots, sores in your mouth, or bleeding that persist beyond two weeks, you should visit a dentist immediately. These problems could suggest early signs of oral cancer.

5. Dry Mouth(Xerostomia)
Our mouth does not dry out as we age. But there are 800 medications that have side effects and lead to dry mouth. And as we get older, we are more likely to consume medicines. If you suspect that you have dry mouth, and the reason it's so critical is that it decreases the saliva. Saliva is like oil in a car, and you've got to have that lubricant to break down the food right.

6. Root Decay
The roots of your teeth start being exposed when the gum tissue recedes from the tooth. Unlike our teeth, roots do not have an enamel-protected layer. This results in decay that doesn't end at the crown of your tooth and instead destroys the entire tooth.

7. Tissue Inflammation
Older adults often experience a certain level of inflammation. Inflammation is essential since the immune system coordinates with tissues so as to respond to injuries and keep invaders away. When inflammation persists, tissue regeneration and its maintenance start to diminish. It results in an increased risk of cancer, and diseases start accelerating.

8. Periodontitis
Plaque build-up around your teeth due to food particles, tobacco abuse, poorly-fitted bridges and dentures, incomplete diet, and diseases like diabetes, cancer, and anemia are often a concern for older adults.

Here's the solution for these problems

With the advancement in dental technology, patients can benefit from early treatment to ease the pain and discomfort. And here are some easy ways you can help your teeth stay healthy!

Go easy on sugary foods
Cutting down on sugar is a great way to retain healthy teeth. This means the bacteria in your mouth won't get a chance to thrive on sugary treats. Bacteria that feed on your tooth enamel will also discourage cavities and gum disease once you reduce the consumption of sugar-dominant treats.

Avoid Frequent Snacking
Frequent snacking exposes your teeth to sugary foods. But if you do like snacking, choose foods that contain lesser sugar. Make sure you stay away from sugary biscuits and chips. A great way to snack healthy is to cut up celery and carrot sticks to enjoy it with your favorite hummus.

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss
Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day is a must. Whether you're at work or at home, inculcate the habit of keeping your mouth clean. Cleaner teeth will prevent bacterial plaque from latching onto your teeth.

Visit dentist every six months for regular checkups
Visiting a dentist every six months is important. It helps your dentist check for cavities and plaque build-up. Further, your mouth will also be checked for signs of gum disease. So make sure you visit your dentist regularly to keep dental problems at bay.

You can always start inculcating good oral care practices at any age. And eating healthy does not necessarily mean you'll have to compromise on all things sugary! Visit your dentist regularly and make sure you ask them lots of questions to help you get into a healthy routine.


Anu Isaac

Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.

Kolegji AAB edu research - Kosovo

AAB is a lead higher education and research institution in Kosovo and in the region reflecting the best national and international quality, values and standards in higher education, research and artistic activites at home and internationally, keeping up with new technology developments and fully integrated in European Higher education trends (known as the Bologna Process), an active participant in all relevant initiatives in higher education and a key promoter of social and economic development of the country.


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