How Aging Affects Oral Health

A grandma and grandpa hold their two grandkids

As we age, our bodies change and become more susceptible to health problems, and your teeth are no different. Here are some ways in which aging affects oral health.

Cavities

We mostly think of children getting cavities, but as you age you enter a second round of cavity prone years. One reason this affects older adults is because they are more prone to dry mouth. This is a normal part of aging but is also a side-effect of over 500 medications, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other health issues commonly associated with older people. It’s important to tell your dentist about the medications you are taking so they can recommend how to relieve dry mouth and prevent cavities. These preventive measures include drinking more water, chewing sugarless gum, avoiding beverages like coffee and soda, using over-the-counter oral moisturizers, applying a fluoride gel to protect your teeth from cavities, and getting a humidifier to keep moisture in the air.

Gum Disease

Older adults are also more susceptible to gum disease, which is caused by built-up plaque that irritates the gums and causes swelling and bleeding. Gum disease is often painless until it reaches an advanced stage so many adults may not realize they have it until it has progressed significantly. When left untreated, gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets where plaque and food particles can collect. However, gum disease can be prevented with good oral health practices like brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, maintaining a healthy diet, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

Mouth Cancer

The average age of those diagnosed with mouth, tongue, and throat cancer is 62 according to the American Cancer Society. To prevent mouth cancer, make sure you’re going in for regular appointments so your dentist can check for early signs, which typically don’t cause any pain. If you see any early signs of cancer, including open sores, white or red patches, and changes in the lips, tongue, and lining of the mouth, call our office so we can schedule you in as soon as possible. Early detection of mouth, tongue, and throat cancer can save your life.

Maintain Your Oral Health at Any Age

It’s important to have good dental hygiene habits at any age, but it’s especially important to keep it up as you get older because you’re more likely to develop oral health problems. Be sure to brush and floss daily, clean your dentures on a daily basis, drink water with fluoride, and maintain a healthy diet.


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