As you grow older, your body goes through a lot of changes, unless, of course, you are Robert Downey Jr. and keep getting better with the age! There will be wrinkles on the face, potential hair loss, you might even start encountering health problems and your mouth is no exception.
There is a chance of tooth decay and even loss with time. According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, poor oral health can reduce chewing efficiency over time. About 20 teeth are considered to be essential for chewing food and using dentures make it 30% to 40% less efficient but could become your best option with tooth loss.
Both weight loss and obesity have also been seen in older people facing problems of tooth loss. Here are the changes that you are likely to face in your mouth as you age.
Saliva is needed to protect our teeth from decay, but as you age, the amount of saliva produced might decrease. If the amount produced is insufficient, the health of your teeth could be at risk. If you have a sticky feeling in the mouth, a dry throat and difficulty in swallowing food, you are facing the problem of dry mouth.
One of the causes of dry mouth is smoking or high dependence on medication at an early age. Drinking large amounts of water will help you tackle this problem.
The risk of oral cancer rises as you age, with about 43,000 Americans being diagnosed with it in 2014. About 8,000 of them were reported to have died because of it. The best course of action to overcome oral cancer is to have it diagnosed as early as possible, says Dr. Gary E. Horblitt, Prosthodentist, Revitalizing Smiles.
Red, swollen and bleeding gums are an indication of gingivitis, which can prove to be very dangerous. If left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis, which can further lead to tooth decay. This often also leads to loss of bones in the jaw.
The best way to treat the condition is to pay regular visits to the dentist and take the recommended medication. The dentist will clean your gums regularly to keep them healthy for longer.
The good news though is that the oral health problems are decreasing in the country among the elderly. “Older Americans are keeping their teeth longer than ever before and the average number of teeth people retain into old age is increasing,” said Judith Ann Jones, DDS, a spokesman on elder care for the American Dental Association and director of The Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine.