Dental Office Q&A: Top 10 Dental Problems in Older Adults

19 November, 2018 General Dentistry,

Dental issues can develop at any stage of life, but there are problems that most older adults will face at one time or another. Fortunately, your Barrie dentist has solutions for these issues. If you or a loved one are getting close to the retirement years and wonder what sort of problems might complicate your dental health, here are the ten most common issues that older adults face.

1. Tooth Decay

While tooth decay is a potential issue for all adults, people who are getting closer to retirement age are at a greater risk. As any Barrie dentist can tell you, the dental habits of a lifetime begin to catch up with patients as they age. If you were diligent with dental hygiene, had annual checkups, and made sure all issues were resolved quickly, you are less likely to develop tooth decay.

For people who may have let their dental hygiene slide from time to time, its still possible to make some changes. Find a dentist near you and arrange for a complete checkup. If there are any signs of tooth decay present, no matter how small, take care of the problem immediately. Doing so will prevent the problem from getting worse and could allow you to keep the tooth for many more years.

Remember that the purpose of general dentistry is to help you keep your permanent teeth for as long as possible. Forget about what has gone on in the past and change your poor dental hygiene habits into good ones. Doing so wont reverse any damage thats already done, but dentists in Barrie will confirm that those changes will help reduce the risk of more problems developing as you age.

2. Loss of Enamel

Another issue that is likely to become apparent in later years is a loss of enamel. All sorts of beverages and foods can weaken the enamel that protects your teeth. As the layer begins to break down, more of the yellowish portion of the underlying tooth is exposed. At that point, you need to have some work done in order to protect the tooth and improve your appearance.

The team at the dental office can talk with you about veneers and other solutions to restore the appearance of your teeth. There will also be some discussion about how you can protect the enamel that remains on some of your teeth. Barrie dental clinics sometimes offer short classes that help patients replace older dental habits with new ones that slow enamel erosion. If a dentist near you offers these sort of classes, sign up. Youll do quite a bit for your teeth and make the process of using general dentistry to protect your dental health a lot easier.

3. Dry Mouth

Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is a condition that involves a reduction in saliva productions. The result is that your mouth dries out. Without a proper amount of moisture in the mouth, theres a greater opportunity for damage to the teeth and gums. That will result in more treatments that increase your general dental services cost and could shorten the life of your teeth.

To reduce the risk of tooth decay or gum problems because of dry mouth, your Barrie dentist will want to determine if theres an organic reason for the issue or if its a side effect of medication. Once the origin is identified, its easier for the dentist near you to come up with a plan for countering the dry mouth. For example, if your doctor is not open to changing your medication, its possible to use products recommended as part of general dentistry to help hydrate the mouth.

4.Gum Disease

Periodontitis or gum disease can occur at any age, but older adults are at a greater risk. Various studies indicate that as many as 25% of people over the age of 65 will experience gum disease at least once during the retirement years.As your Barrie dentist will point out, some of the more common signs include receding gums, loose teeth, and even decay that requires the removal of those teeth.

You do not have to be among those who experience periodontitis. The team at your dental office can offer suggestions on how to take care of your teeth and remove the bacteria that often leads to this condition. Doing so will mean that you end up making fewer trips to local Barrie dental clinics and that your overall dental services cost from year to year remains within reason.

5.Oral Cancer

When was the last time you had an oral cancer screening? Many dentists in Barrie recommend that people begin to have them annually after they pass the age of 50. If there is a history of oral or any type of cancer in your immediately family, it doesnt hurt to arrange for a screening at least twice a year. Youll find that all of the better Barrie dental clinics are set up to conduct the screenings.

Early detection is key to treating oral cancer. If you notice red or white patches in the mouth, sores that seem to come out of nowhere, or other changes in the tissue composing the mouth lining, call a dentist near you and make an appointment. Treatments can be administered at the local dental office and cure the cancer, especially if its caught in the earliest stages.

6.Thrush

Thrush is a form of fungal infection that can be diagnosed at your local dental office. The fungus involved is called Candida Albicans. This particular infection is most commonly associated with patients who develop dry mouth, take certain types of medications, or wear dentures. The use of tobacco products, including smoking, can also increase the potential for developing thrush.

General dentistry requires first dealing with the infection itself and then determining what changes would minimize the possibility of developing thrush a second time. The solution could be making changes to medication if possible, dealing with the root cause of the dry mouth, or choosing to give up using tobacco products. A dentist near you can go over the causes, recommend further treatments or lifestyle changes that will help, and in turn help you reduce the amount of dental services cost you are likely to incur in the coming years.

7. Decreased Bone Density

A loss of bone density can impact every part of the body, including the jaws. Youll find that many dentists in Barrie pay closer attention to the condition of the jaw bones as patients age. Thats because a loss of density has a direct effect on the stability and general health of your teeth.

Lower bone density increases the changes for your teeth to loosen. That in turn puts you at greater risk of damage to the teeth, including the roots. If your Barrie dentist finds that there is some loss of density, the suggestion is likely to have a discussion with your family physician.

Treatment to limit the loss of density will lessen future issues with the teeth and could allow you to keep them for more years. A combination of regular medical care and access to general dentistry will lead to keeping your basic dental services costs a little lower as well as protecting the health of your teeth, gums, and jaws.

8. Loss of Permanent Teeth

Even with good oral hygiene and regular checkups, there is a chance of losing your permanent teeth during those later years. Factors such as genetics are often part of the reason why you lose teeth in spite of your good habits. When the time comes, your Barrie dentist will go over the options for replacing those teeth that have to go.

You may find that bridges will do nicely for a time. As more teeth are lost, partial or a full set of dentures may be a viable solution. Its not unusual for dentists in Barrie to recommend dental implants when its obvious that most of your permanent teeth will have to be replaced.

Choosing the right option is something you and your Barrie dentist will need to discuss at length. Remember that the focus is not on the dental services cost, but on identifying the solution that will provide the most benefit. Take your time and youll be happier with the choice as the years pass.

9.Uneven or Shrinking Jaw Line

Aging also means that you are likely to experience some changes in your jaw line. This is especially true if you settle on dentures as the replacement for those real teeth that have to go. An uneven or shrinking jaw line is one of the reasons why professionals at Barrie dental clinics urge patients to carefully consider all their options for teeth replacements.

Shifts in the jaw occur because the sockets that once housed your teeth are now empty. Over time, the bone will begin to shrink and settle so that those sockets no longer exist. As they do, the shape of the jaw changes. Youve likely noticed people who either went without replacements for their teeth or opted for dentures with what appears to be less pronounced lower jaws or have a sunken look to the lower part of their faces in general.

Along with affecting your appearance, an uneven or shrinking jaw can also make it harder to chew your food properly. The condition also increases the odds of developing other types of dental issues, including a greater risk of dry mouth.

At the time you lose one of more teeth, it makes sense to seriously consider the idea of dental implants. Unlike dentures, individual implants do not rest on the gums. They actually occupy the space that was once filled by the roots of your teeth. With something filling those now empty sockets, there is less of a chance for the bone to begin shifting. The shrinkage wont occur and your face retains the natural contours that are so familiar.

The team at the dental office can help you understand more about how implants preserve the shape of the lower part of the face. You can also go over the options for implants with the professionals at any of the Barrie dental clinics. While the actual dental services cost involved with implants is higher than other solutions on the front end, youll also find that the expenses incurred in later years are a little lower. Thats because the implants are likely to last for the rest of your life.

10.Reduced Sense of Taste

Its not unusual for people to experience a diminished sense of taste as they age. Some of it has to do with the natural process of aging, but it can also be a side effect of some medications. The result is that you may be tempted to consume food and beverages with greater amounts of spices or at least more pronounced flavours.

While that seems fine on the surface, inordinate amounts of spices could increase the chances of developing certain health issues. That includes issues affecting your teeth and gums. The team at the local dental office can help you determine if the change in your taste buds is due to something you take. If so, talk with your doctor about trying a similar medication that is not known to reduce the sense of taste.

If the loss of taste is permanent, dentists in Barrie can recommend changes to your dental hygiene as well as how frequently you come in for checkups. The idea is to ensure that whatever you are doing to add more flavour to your food is not creating more dental issues.

Aging does mean changing the way you think about your health in general. That includes the way you protect your dental health. Be aware of problems that general dentistry has identified as more common among people who are getting older. Talk with a dentist near you about how to avoid or at least minimize the risk of experiencing these conditions. Youll be surprised at the range of resources and support that the right Barrie dental clinics can offer to older adults who want to enjoy the best dental health possible.