Just like the young children, older adults who are not able to take care of themselves can experience various types of dental problems if special care is not taken. As people age, certain oral conditions may develop that may affect not just the teeth but the overall health. Some of the common problems include:
- Dental Attrition: Attrition is basically the wearing away of the tooth surface that takes place as a normal sign of ageing. It usually results from improper diet and habits such as clenching, grinding and chewing.
- Dental caries: It is a myth that only school going kids get cavities as tooth decay can develop at any age even in the older adults. Even teeth that already have fillings are at risk as plaque can build up beneath the filling and may result in tooth decay. In case of gum recession the exposed tooth roots are also susceptible to decay.
- Dry mouth: This is also known as xerostomia, which causes a reduction in the production of saliva which is usually caused by side effects of oral medications. The condition may be escorted by trouble in swallowing, eating, decrease in taste sensation and can even affect speech.
- Discoloration: Ageing is associated with yellowing of teeth or tooth discoloration. Tooth enamel deteriorates as people age causing the teeth to appear yellow. Foods and drinks like coffee, wine and cola and even smoking can stain teeth.
- Disease: Oral thrush, gingivitis, dental abscess, periodontitis and other serious conditions such as oral cancer may develop in older adults over time.
Peter Spennato is a reputable dentist in San Pedro, California, the United States who says that that oral health of the individual deteriorates quite normally as they tend to age. In addition, various serious medical conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, high cholesterol, anxiety, pain or depression are related with the deterioration of the dental health. This is because the medications that are usually prescribed for these medical conditions can cause side effects such as dry mouth which in turn can result in deterioration of the dental health.
Even though the weakening of the oral health is a common process in older adults, Peter Spennato says that by following the below given tips one can have a healthy oral cavity with less or no issues. Listed below are some of the tips that can help an elderly adult to keep the problems at bay:
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash or an oral rinse with chlorhexidine gluconate to avoid the building up of microorganisms and plaque.
- Drink plenty of water as it contains fluoride which helps to strengthen the teeth.
- Chew sugar free gums to keep the mouth hydrated especially those who are on certain medications that result in dry mouth.
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol as they increase the chances of oral cancer and promote the development of dental problems.
Apart from all these, Peter Spennato says that one should not skip dental check-ups as this can only help in providing a better oral health.