It's easy to forget sometimes that your mouth and teeth are aging right along with the rest of your body. Your mouth and teeth require the same amount of quality health care as the rest of you. Taking care of your oral health (mouth and teeth) is as important to seniors as it is to kids. Not taking care of your oral health can lead to serious diseases.
Causes for Concern
- Cavities/tooth decay. No matter how old you are, your natural teeth can still get cavities. Improper cleaning and gum disease leads to decay. In addition to brushing, using fluoride gel, mouth wash, and toothpaste will help protect your teeth from decay.
- Gum disease. Infections that harm your gums and the bone that holds your teeth in place are called gum disease. The medical name is periodontal or gingival disease. If your gums are swollen and bleed easily, you may have a condition called gingivitis. Infections, if they aren't treated, will cause your teeth to loosen and fall out.
- Dentures (false teeth). As we age, our mouth changes in shape, and dentures need to be adjusted or replaced. Partial or full dentures require the same careful cleaning as your natural teeth.
- Dental implants. Dental implants are small metal pieces that hold false teeth or partial dentures in place. Only a dentist can determine if you should have dental implants.
- Dry mouth. Diseases and medical conditions (such as radiation therapy) can cause dry mouth which makes it difficult to eat, swallow, and speak. The Eastman Dental Center is a leader in research on medications that improve saliva flow and reduce dry mouth.
- Oral cancer. People over 40 are at greater risk for oral cancer. Treatment is most effective with early detection. Even if you have no teeth of your own, a dentist should examine your mouth for oral cancer.