Finally, there is some Good News about oral health in the US. Even as the population ages, older Americans are keeping their teeth longer than ever before. Yet, while the average number of teeth people retain into old age is increasing, there can be more problems with keeping them – and keeping them healthy. This is why good dental hygiene and regular check-ups become ever more important as you age.
5 Most Common Dental Problems for People Over 50
While maintaining good oral health is important for people of every age, adults over 50 years of age can develop some age-specific problems that may not have bothered them when they were younger. If you’re now over the age of 50, take a look at these five common dental problems that can show up as you age:
- Tooth decay – Of course people over 50 can still get cavities. As long as you have natural teeth, you can get cavities on the surfaces of teeth that have never been a problem before. You can also get them around old fillings or at the root of your tooth because, as you age, the root of your tooth becomes softer and sometimes more exposed.
- Dry mouth – Your saliva helps to protect you against tooth decay but, if you’re not producing it, your teeth may be at risk. What are the symptoms of this? You’ll have a sticky feeling in your mouth, with trouble swallowing, dry throat, and dry, cracked lips. You may notice a metallic taste in your mouth or persistent bad breath. You may or may not feel thirsty. Dry mouth is often caused by medications, and as you age, you tend to take more medications. It can also result from smoking or from a blow to the head that somehow damages the salivary glands.
- Gum disease – If your gums are swollen, red, or bleed easily, you’ve got gingivitis. This is an early form of gum disease that can progress and become dangerous. Untreated gingivitis often becomes periodontitis, which is when the gum pulls away from the tooth and creates pockets which can become infected, often leading to a painful abscess. If this condition develops and continues unchecked, it could cause the loss of bones in your jaw and eventually, the loss of your teeth themselves.
- Oral cancer – More than 43,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with oral cancers this year. More than 8,000 will die from it, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation. Oral cancer incidence definitely increases as you get older, and is often linked to smoking and heavy alcohol use. Recently, the number of cases has risen because doctors have discovered that the Human Papilloma Virus also can cause oral cancer.
- Crowding – As you age, your teeth will shift, often leading to tooth crowding. This can lead to overlapping teeth or gaps between teeth that did not exist when you were younger. This can lead to problems, not because you’ll look different, but because it can make your teeth more difficult to clean, leading to increased tooth decay. It’s also of concern because misaligned teeth can lead to teeth erosion and damage to the supporting tissue and bone. Add to that the tendency of older adults to have periodontal disease, and you could end up losing your teeth even faster.
The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.