As the years pass, dental health and taking good care of your teeth become increasingly important. A prevailing misunderstanding is that you will lose your teeth and need dentures as you get older, but this simply is not true. If you are committed to preventative dentistry, your teeth can last a lifetime.
As bodies naturally do, your mouth also changes as you age. For instance, the nerves in your teeth may become smaller. Smaller nerves make your teeth less sensitive to tooth pain and cavities.
Additionally, if you forgo regular dental checkups, these minor problems could lead to bigger issues.
Let’s explore some dental problems you may face as you grow older.
Common Dental Issues As You Age
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list 5 oral health problems, attended by some interesting statistics, found in older adults:
- Untreated tooth decay
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 adults have untreated tooth decay.
- Gum disease (periodontitis)
About 2 in 3 (68%) of adults 65 years or older have been diagnosed with gum disease.
- Tooth loss
Neglecting preventative dentistry can lead to tooth loss. About 1 in 5 adults 65 years or older have lost all their teeth. Moreover, wearing dentures can affect the nutrition of older adults because those with dentures generally prefer soft foods that are easier to chew instead of whole foods (fruits and vegetables).
- Oral cancer
The average age of adults who are diagnosed with oral cancer is 62 years.
- Chronic disease
Many Americans age 65 or older take prescription and over-the-counter drugs to address chronic diseases. These medications can often cause dry mouth, which reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth. Did you know that a lack of saliva increases the risk of cavities?
The Importance of Preventative Dentistry
Getting a regular dental checkup twice a year at your local dentist is imperative to best care for your teeth as you age.
Some other oral health tips to prevent issues down the road are:
- Brush twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush or an electric toothbrush
- Floss between your teeth at least once a day
- Quit smoking. Smoking not only puts you at risk for lung cancer, but it increases your risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss
- Clean your dentures on a daily basis and be sure to remove them at night.
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