- Dental Health

Common Dental Health Concerns for Seniors

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As adults continue to age past their so-called “prime years,” many slowly discover in various ways how their health is changing and how they must now approach it.

Just as the heart and lungs often require additional care as we age, so does one’s oral health care. To get an idea of the kind of dental concerns age tends to bring toward seniors, check out the list below for more information on each typical issue.

Cavities Due to Medication

While many do not realize it until they experience it for themselves, all older adults enter a new stage of life where they are more prone to cavities just as they were when they were younger-even if they haven’t had a cavity in years.

One of the most common causes behind cavities in seniors is dry mouth. While not specifically a part of the aging process, dry mouth can be one of many side-effects of over 500 medications, such as those for asthma, allergies, high cholesterol, hypertension, anxiety, depression, pain, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s.

This is why seniors would do well to inform their dentist of any medications they are taking, as he or she can recommend solutions for relieving dry mouth and therefore preventing cavities, such as buying OTC oral moisturizers, changing medication or its dosage, drinking additional water, or using a fluoride varnish or gel for protecting teeth from cavities.

Periodontal Disease

Many seniors have periodontal, or gum, disease, which is caused by bacteria within plaque. These bacteria irritate gums, leading to them becoming red, swollen, and more prone to bleeding.

As to why periodontal disease largely affects many adults, it is typically painless until the later stages. When left untreated, the gums can start to recede, forming pockets where food remnants and plaque can collect.

Advanced periodontal disease can irreversibly damage a person’s gums as well as the ligaments and bone that support the teeth, which eventually leads to tooth loss. Luckily, with biannual dental visits, periodontal disease can be prevented or treated accordingly.

Mouth Cancer

There are roughly 35,000 cases of throat, tongue, and mouth cancer diagnosed every year, as per the American Cancer Society, with the patients’ ages in these cases averaging out to 62. During visits to the dentist, especially with seniors, he or she can look for any indications of oral cancer.

Regular appointments are especially important, given that the initial stages of oral cancer usually don’t cause pain, so early detection can save lives. Symptoms include reddish or white patches, open sores, and changes on the tongue, lips, and the lining of the mouth lasting over two weeks.

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Source by Gerald McConway

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