Dr. Greg Williams understands that the needs of his patients change once they begin to reach their senior years. To help his senior patients enjoy the best possible oral health, Dr. Williams and his staff work to educate patients about the increased risk they face for developing a variety of oral health problems.
These problems can include:
• Darkened teeth. A lifetime of eating and drinking foods and beverages that stain can cause, to some extent, the dentin (the bone-like substance the lies underneath your teeth’s enamel) to change color.
• Loss of taste. Even though getting older causes most people to lose a little of their sense of taste, certain medications, diseases, and even wearing dentures can also contribute to a loss of taste.
• Gum disease. Whenever you eat or drink, plaque (a sticky bacteria that lives in your mouth) starts producing acids that begin to eat away at your teeth’s enamel. Over time, these acids can begin to cause permanent, long-term damage in the form of tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions can be made worse by the use of poor-fitting dentures, diets high in sugar, and such diseases as cancer, anemia, and diabetes. Gum disease is a problem senior adults frequently deal with.
• Tooth loss. The leading cause of tooth loss is gum disease.
• Uneven jawbone. This condition is caused by tooth loss.
• Stomatitis caused by dentures. Poorly fitted dentures and practicing bad dental hygiene can lead to a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans, which can cause stoatitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue underneath dentures.
• Root decay. Gum disease can cause your gum line to recede, which can expose the root of your tooth to harmful plaque acids that cause root decay.
• Dry mouth. A reduction in the flow of saliva can cause individuals to experience dry mouth. Cancer treatments that use radiation, and a number of diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, can cause a decrease in the amount of saliva your mouth produces.
• Thrush. Several types of diseases and prescription medications that affect the body’s immune system can cause Candida albicans to grow in the mouth.
While age by itself is not the sole or predominant factor that determines a person’s oral health, a number of medical conditions associated with aging can make it difficult for seniors to take proper care of their teeth and gums. Arthritis in the fingers and hands, for example, can make it difficult for seniors to brush or floss properly, and certain medications that seniors take may negatively affect their oral health.
Dental Tips for Seniors
The key for quality oral health is brushing and flossing daily. Plaque can buildup quickly in the mouth of seniors, especially when they neglect their oral hygiene needs, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
To keep teeth and gums healthy and strong, individuals of all ages need to follow these three steps.
• Brush at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride
• Floss at least once a day prior to brushing
• Schedule regular visits to see Dr. Williams for routine cleanings and oral examinations
By following these steps, seniors can help to prevent gum disease and tooth decay, and enjoy a great looking smile throughout their golden years.