When most baby boomers were growing up, it was normal for their parents’ generation to have dentures. But there is no reason for that to be the case today. In fact, older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before.
A healthy mouth and teeth are essential to enjoying a good quality of life when we reach our “golden years.” They give us the ability to eat nutritious foods, communicate effectively and feel confident.
In terms of our dental health, there are some things we can expect as a normal part of the aging process, including the following:
- Our teeth simply wear down over time due to chewing, cleaning and the normal processes of aging
- Our teeth stain more easily as we get older
- Aging gums naturally recede over time, exposing roots and making teeth more vulnerable to decay and more sensitive to hot and cold
- Seniors are more susceptible to tooth decay around the root and around the edges of older fillings
But there are also some dental issues we should be on the lookout for that will require attention, such as:
Tooth loss—Although preventable with good routine oral care, cavities and gum diseases are the leading causes of tooth loss as we get older. Some 25 percent of adults over 60 no longer have any natural teeth.
Dry mouth—Most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. A common side effect of some medical conditions and medications is dry mouth which can increase the incidence of tooth decay.
Bleeding gums—Usually a sign of periodontal disease, bleeding gums can result in tooth loss if left untreated. About 23 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds have severe gum disease, which has also been linked to arthritis and heart disease, among others.
Painful mouth—Sores on the tongue or in the mouth can be a sign of oral cancer or gum disease.
If you have concerns about your dental health as you get older, Dr. Douglas Angell and the dental hygienists at Angell’s Dentistry will be happy to answer your questions. Call our office to schedule your next oral exam. When you come in, please let us know if you have experienced any of the following:
- recent changes in your mouth
- loose or sensitive teeth
- difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
- pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
- lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth