Senior’s Oral Health

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As a population, seniors have long been plagued by dental issues. Oftentimes, seniors’ oral health may deteriorate along with their teeth as they age.  We will discuss some of the most common issues with seniors’ teeth.

DRY MOUTH
The American Dental Association reports that dry mouth is the most common reason for cavities among seniors. Dry mouth is not a natural part of getting older; rather, it is a symptom of numerous medical conditions and the side effects of more than 500 medications, including those used to treat diabetes, stroke, oral thrush, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and other autoimmune disorders. A dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors, including snoring and mouth breathing.

The average person’s prescribed medication intake tends to rise as they become older. This causes many elderly people to have problems with dry mouth. Your dentist may inquire as to whether or not you are taking any drugs for this reason. If you suffer from dry mouth, we can recommend therapies to alleviate the discomfort and decrease the likelihood of cavities. Here are popular practices recommended by dentists:

  •  Hydrate yourself more
  •  Substitute dry-mouth-preventing drugs wherever feasible
  •  Make use of a soothing mouth rinse
  •  To increase saliva flow, try chewing sugar-free gum
  •  Run a humidifier
  •  Use lip balm
  •  Take advantage of fluoride therapy
  •  Try to abstain from caffeine and liquor
  •  Do not use any tobacco products
  •  Keep away from OTC decongestants and antihistamines
  •  Cut back on the sweets and processed meals (These increase the risk of tooth decay)
  •  Stay away from alcoholic mouthwashes

LOSS OF TEETH AND THE PROCESS OF DECAY
Seniors need to take extra care of their oral health because they have a higher risk of dental decay. Cavities in seniors’ teeth typically occur around the gum line or even under it. Dry mouth makes the elderly particularly vulnerable. Tooth decay is quite common, so even if it may not have been an issue in the past it is  important to practice good oral hygiene to reduce your risk. It is important to keep up with  dental checkups.  This enables us to check for the development of cavities and promptly fill them before they cause significant damage that necessitates more invasive measures, such as extraction.

GUM DISEASE
Another prevalent oral health issue among the over-60 crowd is gum disease, often called periodontal disease. Plaque bacteria irritate gums, causing them to become inflamed, red, and bleed easily. Comparatively speaking, the early stages of gum disease seldom cause much discomfort.  If left unchecked this condition may worsen over time.

Because gum disease is most effectively treated when discovered in its earliest stages, getting regular dental checkups as you age is just as crucial as it was when you were younger.

ORAL CANCER
Most individuals grossly underestimate how prevalent oral cancer actually is. Each year, more than 54,000 cases of oral cancer are identified, according to the American Cancer Society. The majority of these cases are patients over the age of 60.

Oral cancer screenings are routinely performed on patients during dental checkups.  In its early stages, oral cancer, like gum disease, seldom causes any discomfort. But it is essential to schedule and keep your dental appointments at Las Vegas Smile throughout your life, as early diagnosis can treat or eliminate any major issues.

OTHER DENTISTRY PROBLEMS
In addition to the aforementioned issues, the following are also frequently encountered by older citizens and their dentists

  • Discolored teeth
  • Lack of or diminished capacity for detecting flavors
  • Infection of the roots
  • Thrush
  • Stomatitis caused by wearing dentures
  • Misaligned jawbone
  • Tooth decay

Causes of a Loose Tooth

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While losing a tooth as a child may elicit positive feelings and a visit from the tooth fairy, this occurrence as an adult has serious negative repercussions. Understand why loose teeth happen and the treatment options that can help prevent tooth loss over time.

Loose Teeth Causes and Dental Treatments to Prevent Tooth Loss

One of the leading causes of loose or missing teeth as an adult is trauma. Of course, if you experience an accident or attack, you may experience dental problems. Possible outcomes include cracked teeth, stretched ligaments designed to hold your teeth in their sockets firmly, and shifting due to the force of the impact. If this happens, contact your dentist as soon as possible for help. There are other preventable or treatable conditions that contribute to these issues, however.

Periodontal Disease

Any type of periodontal disease like gingivitis or periodontitis may cause loose teeth over time. These involve inflammation, infection, or breakdown of the gums, soft tissues, teeth, and supporting bones. In the initial stages when gums separate from the teeth, more spaces and gaps for bacteria and plaque to accumulate speeds up the problem. Any of these situations can progress rapidly and result in losing teeth in the long run. In order to prevent this eventual problem, address the first signs of gingivitis before it advances. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding, swelling, and pain. Once periodontitis sets in or teeth begin to loosen, your dentist can still offer solutions like scaling, deep cleaning, root planing, or surgery to reduce gum pockets and more.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Pregnant women may experience changes to their dental health due to the increased activity of certain hormones. Gingivitis, which is defined as gum inflammation, is a possible outcome. If you notice streaks of blood when you brush your teeth or floss, speak with your dentist about your options. Untreated pregnancy gingivitis may transform into periodontitis over time. This, in turn, may result in loose teeth and more serious dental issues.

Osteoporosis

Deterioration, demineralization, and weakening of bone that often affects older people also has an impact on the jawbone and its ability to hold teeth securely. As the strength of the alveolar process, the part of the bone that holds teeth, dwindles, it becomes more difficult for the soft tissues to hold them in place. According to the National Institute of Health, the risk of loose teeth increases threefold for women diagnosed with osteoporosis.[i]

If your medical doctor has given you this diagnosis or put you in a high-risk category, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss the possible repercussions. Make sure to tell your dentist about medications you take to prevent potentially damaging side effects like osteonecrosis. This condition can cause teeth to loosen when certain treatments counteract anti-resorptive prescriptions.

If you experience loose or missing teeth as an adult, it is a cause for major concern. In many cases, Las Vegas Smile Center can save your loose teeth with proper treatment. Many options exist for missing teeth these days, too. The most important tip is to make a dental appointment quickly to address the problem before it gets worse.

 


[i] https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/oral-health/oral-health-and-bone-disease