As our population of older adults increases (by 2060, we’ll have 98 million adults age 65 or older), so does the need for dental care for seniors. Older adults are at high risk for oral infections and issues, so it’s important to stay on top of your dental health as you age.
Dr. Hannah Baek and our team at Healthy Smile Dental in Woodridge, Illinois, work with many older adults; here are a few common oral health problems we often see and treat in seniors.
Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth (a decrease in saliva so your mouth doesn’t stay moist), isn’t a normal part of the aging process but can often be caused by medications seniors take. Dry mouth can cause problems with chewing, eating, swallowing, and even talking.
Tooth decay and loss
Saliva helps protect your mouth from bacteria, so without it, your teeth are at greater risk for decay. Aging teeth and gums are also more susceptible to tooth fractures and loss, leading to the need for implants and dentures.
Gum recession and disease
As you get older, your gums can begin to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth. This makes your teeth more vulnerable to cavities and more sensitive when you’re eating or brushing. Plaque can also build up along your gumline, causing bacteria to infect your gums, making them weaker. If left untreated, this can result in tooth and bone loss.
The median age for an oral cancer diagnosis is 62, meaning your risk of oral cancer increases as you get older. Risk factors include tobacco use, prolonged sun exposure, poor diet, and bad oral hygiene. One important sign of oral cancer is sores or abrasions in your mouth that don’t heal over time. If you notice this symptom, contact your dentist.
Screening for oral cancer is one of the main reasons you should keep your regular dental cleaning and exam appointments even as you get older. Dr. Baek is trained to look for initial signs of the disease so she can catch it early when treatment is easier.
Regular exams are also the best way to treat and prevent all the problems on this list. To schedule a cleaning or an appointment to deal with any of these issues, call 630-910-1900 or book an appointment online with Healthy Smile Dental today. Don’t wait — your oral health depends on it!