When we think of developing good oral hygiene habits, we usually think of teaching them to children. And it is true, that the best time of life to create good habits like these is when you are very young. Dental health, however, is important throughout life, and may be even more significant for older adults.
Teeth are in greater jeopardy as people age. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for 2014 show that rates of tooth loss are multiplied by 10 from age 44 to 75 and over. Other dental conditions also become more likely and more dangerous as the years stack up.
But it is not just your teeth, but also your overall dental health that is important. Studies show that good dental health is a key part of good overall health. Which is why at EK Dental, we want to be your partners in dental health at ALL ages, including specialised care for older patients.
Ageing and Dental Health
Advancing age puts many seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems, including:
Dark teeth. Caused by changes in dentine and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages, dark teeth can also be caused by thinning of the outer enamel layer, which lets the darker yellower dentin show through.
Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva production, which can be a result of some medical conditions and some medical treatments. Many medicines can cause dry mouth.
Diminished sense of taste. While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases, medications, and dentures can also contribute to this loss of sensation.
Root decay. As gum tissues recedes tooth roots become exposed. Roots do not have enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown of the tooth.
Gum disease. Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes, this is often a problem for older adults.
Tooth loss. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss, although cavities, injuries, and other influences may also lead to tooth loss.
If you feel you have any of the problems discussed above (or ANY problem), contact your EK Dental dentist immediately.
The Mouth-Health Connection
You may have heard of the mind-body connection, but did you know there is a mouth-body connection? To many people, a dental visit is nothing more than a cleaning, having a tooth pulled, or getting a filling. However, a dental visit is also about your general health. What goes on in your mouth affects the rest of your body. What goes on in your body also affects your mouth.
Many diseases and conditions can affect your oral health. For example, people may get more infections in the mouth if they have weakened immune systems.
Medicine for other conditions also can affect the health of your mouth. For example, many drugs cause dry mouth. This can increase your risk of dental decay and yeast infections. It also can affect taste.
Your oral health also can affect other medical conditions. For example, if you are diabetic, a mouth infection can disrupt your blood-sugar levels and make your diabetes harder to control. Researchers also are exploring whether periodontal (gum) disease may increase the risk of various medical problems. These may include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and premature births.
How to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy
The good news is that with some work you can keep your teeth and gums healthy into your 60s, 70s, and beyond.
Consider the following recommendations:
- Eat well and exercise regularly. A healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of chronic diseases that can affect oral health.
- Boost your intake of calcium and vitamin D.
- Quit smoking. All tobacco products harm oral health.
- Consume alcohol in moderation.
- Brush your teeth twice per day. Be sure to brush the gumline. As your tooth enamel ages, be sure not to brush to firmly.
- Floss every day. Flossing helps to clean your mouth of bacteria that can cause gum disease.
- Schedule regular dental checkups. Make sure you visit the dentist at least twice per year, or more as recommended. Regular cleanings will keep your teeth healthy.
While ageing does present some dental challenges, working together, we can meet them!
Reasons to Smile at EK Dental Surgery in Glen Waverley
EK Dental Surgery offers a wide range of preventative and cosmetic dental procedures that will help you achieve the smile of your dreams! We treat patients of every age, including younger and older folks!