As with the rest of the human body, teeth begin to deteriorate as people age. Studies have shown that one third of the senior population in the United States don’t have a single original tooth left. There are many dental problems that occur with older age, and some of the most common ones are listed below, as well as tips to mitigate the damage and allow your oral health to be as healthy as possible.
- Dry Mouth
Most seniors will tell you that at one point or another they’ve experienced uncomfortable dry mouth. While every once in a while this is normal, seniors who consistently experience dry mouth have a saliva deficiency that can lead to bigger problems. Lack of saliva damages teeth and dentures and leads to loosening and micro fractures. In just a few months of lacking saliva, you can go from a perfect healthy mouth to a dozen severe cavities.
The invention of dentures has been a blessing for millions of seniors. Teeth are an unfortunate consequence of aging, but dentures allows people to have teeth that allows them to communicate effectively and look normal even as they get older. They are very delicate however, and the use of dentures will require consistent care, often each and every day, leading to some headaches for many patients.
Another consequence of aging is tooth sensitivity. As you get older, your teeth begin to get hypersensitive, which means that something too cold – such as ice cream or ice water will create a sharp pain, as will something too hot. That is because tooth enamel begins to fade, and what was previously protecting your teeth from extreme temperatures is no longer there. Any time you feel a change in sensitivity it’s important to have it looked at by a dentist as they will be able to tell you if it’s normal, or part of a greater problem such as gum disease or cancer.
Your gums also begin to deteriorate with time, though that process begins often in your 40s and 50s – way before you’re considered a senior. But think of what 15-25 years of slow deterioration does by the time you reach your 60s and 70s – and that’s why the problem is common and often extreme for seniors. That is even more so for smokers, dippers and drinkers, as those substances lead to quicker deterioration of the gums and to various gums diseases such as advanced periodontists.