Our bodies change a lot when we grow older. The changes are not just limited to hair, skin, vital organs, but can also affect our teeth health. Even if you followed a strict dental care routine from your youthful years, the years may have helped your mouth to stay strong, but there are still some health problems that can occur in old age that have nothing to do with routine dental care.
As you get older, it is even more important to maintain a schedule of appointments with your dentist because your mouth may be prone to diseases that were otherwise well protected with your routine dental care in youth. A dentist needs to look at your teeth regularly to help prevent serious oral health problems that are mostly common in the elderly. Problems such as dry mouth, root decay, darkened teeth, and many more can exist if your jaw, gums, roots, or crown of the teeth are not regularly checked.
Here are just a few dangerous dental health problems that the elderly may face:
Root decay – caused by exposure of tooth root to decay-causing acids. Gum tissue recedes from the tooth and since roots have no enamel to protect them, they are likely to decay faster than the crown of the tooth.
Tooth loss – any kind of gum disease can lead to tooth loss, and gum diseases are common in the elderly.
Uneven jawbone – caused by loss of tooth which is not replaced on time. The lost tooth leaves a space which allows the rest of the teeth to shift into open spaces leaving an uneven jawbone in its wake.
Thrush – various drugs can cause the immune system to weaken which can lead to overgrowth of fungus candida albicans inside the mouth.
Preventing oral health problems in the elderly
Oral hygiene for the elderly is a bit different from how a young person would care for their teeth. Since the immune system is weak with various other old-age health problems, the teeth, gums, and roots may become weaker and require more care. Here are some tips on how you can protect your teeth:
- Brush at least twice a day with toothpastes that contain fluoride
- Floss at least once a day after you brush your teeth
- Rinse the mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once or twice a day
- Make sure to visit your dentist regularly for an oral exam
Things to expect during a dental exam as an elder
If you are an elderly heading for a dental check up, there are a number of things your dental may need before starting the checkup. The dentist will require a thorough history of your dental exams throughout the years and many even ask you a few questions that include:
- The date of your last dental visit and the reason behind it
- Changes in mouth in recent history
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing food
- Feelings of pain, discomfort, bleeding, or sores in the mouth
- Loose teeth or increased teeth sensitivity
- Whether you have bumps, swellings or lumps inside the mouth