It is estimated that 71 million Americans will be 65 years or older by 2030. While oral health among this group has improved significantly during the past several years, they are still at risk for both acute and chronic diseases of the teeth.
This age group is especially vulnerable to teeth problems. While many seniors are keeping their teeth for longer than ever before, this also means that more problems are likely to arise. Here are 5 common dental problems for patients over 60 years, as well as their treatment.
- Tooth decay: If you are over 60 years, you can get more cavities. As you age, the roots of your teeth become softer and more exposed. Cavities then tend to occur, not only on the surfaces of the teeth but also around old fillings or at the roots of the teeth. Fluoride is the treatment of choice to help prevent tooth decay. Almost 80% of people in the United States drink fluorinated water. However, if you don’t, you should use a daily fluoride rinse while brushing to prevent tooth decay. You should visit your dentist for a consult if you think you have tooth decay.
- Dry mouth: If you have dry mouth, you will have a sticky feeling in your mouth, trouble swallowing, as well as a dry throat and dry, cracked lips. You may also notice a metallic taste in your mouth or persistent bad breath. Dry mouth may occur due to a lack of saliva. Saliva prevents tooth decay and dry mouth. If you are not producing enough saliva, your teeth may be at risk, due to a lack of calcium and phosphate. The latter prevent demineralization of your teeth. Dry mouth can also be caused by medications that older adults may be taking. It can also be caused by smoking. To prevent dry mouth, you need to stimulate saliva production. You can do this by drinking a lot of water, or then, by chewing sugar-free xylitol candies or gum. You should also visit your dentist, who may prescribe a saliva substitute or may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
- Gum disease: If your gums are swollen, red, and bleeding, you may have gingivitis. The latter is an early form of gum disease. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, where the gum pulls away from the tooth and creates pockets that can become infected. This can progress to a gradual loss of bone, and then, a loss of your teeth. You can treat this by visiting your dentist regularly and getting your teeth cleaned professionally and your gums checked and treated.
- Tooth crowding: As you age, your teeth shift. This results in tooth crowding, which makes your teeth that much more difficult to clean. Also, food can get stuck in different places in your mouth. Misaligned teeth can lead to tooth erosion and damage to the supporting tissue and bone. To treat crowding of your teeth, you should visit your dentist, who may fit a retainer, spacer, or Invisalign braces on your teeth.
- Oral cancer: Several thousand Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and around 8,000 will die because of it. The incidence of oral cancer definitely increases as you get older. It is also linked with heavy smoking and heavy alcohol use. If you have a sore in your mouth that does not heal, you should visit your dentist so that the disease can get detected in its earliest stages. If oral cancer is detected early, there is an 80% chance of survival.
Since these are common conditions in patients over 60 years of age, regular visits to your dentist are a must. At the Harbour Pointe Oral Surgery & Advanced Dental Implant Center, we treat our all of our patients with special care. We understand the different age groups, require different treatment options.
So visit the Harbour Pointe Oral Surgery & Advanced Dental Implant Center, and reduce your risk for these conditions.