Keeping up with your dental health as you get older includes new challenges that come with aging teeth and gums. Over the course of your life, issues like grinding your teeth, medications, and a general decline in dental care can lead to many oral health problems as a senior. While there are a host of issues that can come as a result of aging, these are the three most common dental challenges.
- Gum Disease and Receding Gums
Gum disease is caused by excess plaque and tartar around the gum line. A big problem that faces seniors when it comes to gum disease is that it is often painless and fairly symptom free until later stages. Bleeding when brushing can be an indicator of trouble, and something you should bring up with your dentist. The good news is that gum disease is both preventable and treatable; flossing and daily brushing can help reduce the effects of gum disease. If you are a smoker, think about quitting because tobacco products are one of the biggest factors that impacts gum health.
Similarly, receding gums is a gradual process largely caused by gum disease and poor dental habits. Smoking and teeth grinding can make receding gums worse and if untreated, can expose tooth roots resulting in sensitive teeth. While better dental hygiene practices can help prevent gum disease, other treatment options range from deep cleanings to gum grafts. If you’re a senior worried about gum disease or receding gums, speak with your dental hygienist as soon as possible to decide what your best route of prevention and treatment may be.
- Oral Cancer and Other Health Complications
As with many cancers, your risk increases with age. Oral cancer, or cancers of the mouth, throat, and tongue, is something that mostly affects seniors over the age of 60. This being said, your dentist will be checking for signs of oral cancer at every checkup. Early detection is crucial in treatment and saving lives, but many of the signs may not be visible to you.
Beyond oral cancer, poor dental health may contribute to many other health issues such as heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women. New research studies have shown there may be a link between plaque and bacteria found in your mouth and heart disease. The bacteria on your teeth and gum can enter your bloodstream; this can cause blood clots to form resulting in scary situations such as heart attacks and strokes. The positive side of this means that good oral health can positively impact your heart health at the same time.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Retirement can be an exciting thing for seniors, but it can mean a loss of dental care and coverage. This is compounded by the fact that Medicare doesn’t cover a majority of dental work, and Medicaid coverage is very limited and on a state-by-state basis. This makes the out-of-pocket costs that come with dental care very expensive. Additionally, costs for transportation to and from the dentist can add up if not as independent as they once were. At Snow Family Dentistry, we want to work with you to make dental care choices that are to your best benefit, both from a health and monetary standpoint.
By prioritizing your dental health as you age, you can lessen the dental health complications that come with aging. Continue to practice good oral hygiene and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Regularly floss and replace your toothbrush at least every three months. And, most importantly, continue to visit your dentist as frequently as you can afford.
At Snow Family Dentistry, it is our goal to care for our patients of all ages to the best of our ability. For more information and to decide on a plan of action for senior dental health care, we recommend scheduling a consultation today!