What are some of the oral health problems one can develop as they age? How can these problems be prevented?
Oral Health Problems That Can Develop
As you age, your body goes through several changes, some of which can negatively impact the health of the mouth. Here are a few problems the elderly may develop in their mouth:
- Tooth Decay: Children and the elderly are the ones most likely to develop cavities. For older people, this is the case because they often take medications which can dry out their mouth. Saliva is the body’s primary defense against decay, so the teeth are vulnerable without it.
- Gum Disease: Plaque can infect the gums and cause gum disease. This condition is often painless, so an individual may not realize they have it and that it is destroying gum and bone tissue (which can lead to tooth loss).
- Oral Cancer: It has been found that the elderly are more likely to develop a cancer in the throat, mouth, or tongue, especially if they drink or smoke. Early signs of oral cancer that can be seen in the mouth include red or white patches, open sores, and other changes.
Preventing Oral Health Problems
The mouths of the elderly are more susceptible to problems, but these problems can be prevented when one takes the necessary steps to protect their oral health such as:
- Keeping Good Oral Hygiene Practices: This is especially important when one is older. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss them daily. You may want to consider purchasing an electric toothbrush and flossing tool if you have a condition like arthritis.
- Seeing The Dentist: The nerves in your teeth shrink as you age, which means that you may not realize you have an oral health problem because your teeth are not as sensitive to pain. Visit your dentist every 6 months so they can inspect the health of your teeth.
- Quitting Substances Abuse: When you quit drinking alcohol or using tobacco, you protect the health of both your mouth and body.
- Cleaning Dentures: Your dentures can collect harmful bacteria just like natural teeth do. Be sure to clean your dentures at least once a day with a denture cleanser.