By Dale E. Hunt, DDS; Wood Creek Dental
Among the many health concerns facing seniors and retirees, there are unique factors that can negatively impact your dental health and wreak havoc on a once healthy smile. However, being aware of some of these issues and being proactive to address them can help you keep not only the function of your teeth and the health of your gums, but the love and enjoyment of your smile!
One of the biggest problems to be aware of is that of reduced saliva production and dry mouth, or “xerostomia.” Much more than just feeling thirsty – dry mouth means you make little to no saliva at all. This occurs naturally as you age but is often compounded by certain medications. Without sufficient saliva, food particles don’t get flushed away from your teeth and can lead to tooth decay.
Another dental concern for seniors is that over time, like everything else in your body, things in your mouth begin to wear out and break down. Over the years, old dental fillings can weaken your teeth, causing chips, fractures, and plaque to build up more easily. Additionally, bone loss from missing teeth can cause your gums to shrink and old dental bridges and dentures to stop fitting well, allowing decay to begin underneath them.
Regardless of the cause, the effect for many seniors is Adult Onset Decay. It is rapid and destructive. If left untreated, this decay can cause infection, gum disease, pain, and even tooth loss.
Taking a few easy and inexpensive steps now can help prevent the onset of dental decay in the golden years … and can help you keep more of that “gold” in your pocket!
So, what can you do?
There are four simple prevention measures you can take to guard against Adult Onset Decay and its costly consequences:
1. Use a quality Sonic Toothbrush for higher vibrational speed and better cleaning than a manual brush
2. Floss daily and use Soft-Picks (easy to use tools that assist in removing dental plaque and food particles in hard-to-reach places)
3. Use a prescription strength toothpaste and a nighttime “leave on” fluoride gel to help with decay and sensitivity often associated with dry mouth
4. See your dentist regularly – don’t wait until things break or hurt and become more expensive to fix