Aging affects all of us, and seniors often face numerous health problems, with one of the most prominent being poor dental health. Many people will often assume that losing their teeth is part of the natural aging process, but with good dental care, you can preserve your teeth throughout your senior years. A healthy smile is important for all aspects of life, and neglecting your teeth and gums can have serious consequences. Seniors face the largest risks when it comes to their oral health, as complications can arise easily, resulting in infections, severe pain, and tooth loss.
Oral Health Risks Associated With Aging
Aging is the predecessor to chronic illnesses and disease, and it’s no different for our oral health. According to research, seniors face more struggles maintaining their oral health than most, as older generations tend to face economic disadvantages, lack dental insurance, and have poorer health overall tend to face more dental problems than others. In older adults, especially those 65 and older, their risks of oral health problems increase with age, not only due to environmental factors but also genetic ones. Aging contributes to a higher rate of tooth loss and decay in seniors due to the enamel weakening, blood vessels dilating throughout the gums, and poor brushing caused by lack of coordination and reduced mobility.
Because aging highly contributes to oral health problems, seniors can face increased risks of dental problems as they get older, especially when they’re unable to receive proper dental care on a routine basis. If a lack of oral hygiene is present, then there are many dental health problems that can arise, including:
- Gum Recession: Gum recession often occurs with aging due to how the tissues naturally recede over time. However, gum disease and periodontal disease can increase signs of gum recession due to the development of bacteria and plaque.
- Tooth Decay: Tooth decay occurs much easier in seniors because of a lifetime of chewing and exposure to acidic foods. This wear down of enamel can cause tooth sensitivity and cause any leftover bacteria to easily penetrate the enamel layer and reach into the roots, causing cavities.
- Endodontic Tooth Pain: The teeth can also become less sensitive over time, often causing bacterial infections in the roots to occur too late, leading to calcified roots and necrotic teeth.
- Dry Mouth: Dry mouth is a highly prevalent problem among seniors due to how some chronic pain medications can cause dry mouth as a symptom and thus impact saliva flow and lead to cavities.
- Thrush: Other medications can also affect the immune system and trigger fungal overgrowth in the mouth.
Good oral care is the best way to prevent dental problems from becoming bigger, and for seniors, getting regular dental care and consistent oral hygiene matters because through these methods, dental issues can be stopped before becoming worse. Visiting your dentist to get dental cleanings can help you maintain your oral hygiene and keep your mouth healthy for years to come.