As we age there are numerous health issues that can arise and unfortunately our teeth are not left out of this. There are several oral health issues that can come up with seniors. Some of these include:
- Darkened teeth: this is often caused by the changes in dentin, which is the tissue under the tooth enamel. It is also caused by foods that we eat as well as the thinning of the outer layer of enamel.
- Dry mouth: a reduced flow of saliva can cause dry mouth. The reduction in saliva may be caused by cancer treatments, certain medications, or by certain diseases including Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Loss of taste: advanced age can impair the sense of taste. Medications, diseases, and dentures can also contribute to the loss of the sense of taste.
- Root decay: exposure of the root of the tooth to decaying acids can cause these areas to become exposed. Since roots are not protected by enamel they are prone to decay.
- Gum Disease: most often caused by plaque left on the teeth. Using tobacco, eating unhealthy, poor fitting dentures or bridges, and some diseases can all cause gum disease.
- Tooth loss: one of the leading causes of tooth loss is gum disease.
- Denture induced stomatitis: if you have dentures that do not fit right or if you do not take care of your dentures properly, inflammation of the tissues may occur.
- Thrush: diseases or medicines that affect the immune system can cause an overgrowth of Candida, which can result in thrush.
Oral Hygiene Tips for the Elderly
It is important to make sure that you are brushing and flossing your natural teeth regularly. If oral hygiene is neglected plaque can quickly build up and cause many health issues.
No matter how old you are it is important to brush twice each day using a toothpaste that contains fluoride and to floss at least once per day. Using an antiseptic mouthwash twice a day is recommended as well. In addition, it is important to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and oral examinations.
What to Expect at Your Dental Examination
If you are a senior and are going in for a dental checkup your dentist will conduct the exam and go over a thorough medical history with you. Some of the questions you can expect to answer include:
- Date of your last dental visit
- If you have had any noticeable changes in your mouth
- If any of your teeth are sensitive or loose
- If you have had any difficulty chewing, tasting, or swallowing
- If you have any discomfort or pain in your mouth and if there is any areas that are bleeding or if there are open sores.
- If there are any bumps, lumps, or swelling in your gums or mouth.
During the examination your dentist will check your neck and face for sores, moles, and any skin discoloration. The dentist will also check your jaw, your bite, your salivary glands, and your lymph nodes as well as your tongue and your cheeks and of course your teeth.
Dealing with Dentures
There are many seniors who wear some type of denture. Dentures may replace a single tooth or an entire set of teeth and can be made from a flexible resin, in cobalt chrome, or from acrylic.
According to Birkbeck Dentistry, “dentures can take about 4 weeks to make, but emergency dentures can be made in made in 24 hours through prior arrangements.
Birkbeck Dentistry are based in Sidcup, Kent and offer a full line of dental treatments for the elderly, including denture fittings and the staff is happy to assist seniors with all of their dental care needs.