Teeth, like every part of the body, naturally wear as we age. But for some, the risk of common dental health concerns for people over 50, such as decay, gum disease, and tooth loss can increase, despite regular visits to the family dentist.
With good oral hygiene and regular dental care, these conditions are less likely to develop as you approach your golden years.
Gum disease is a pervasive problem, especially among older individuals. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which is the only reversible stage. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more serious condition – periodontal disease.
Some people have gum disease and may not notice the signs, which is why regular dental checkups are important. The treatment can range depending on how far the condition has progressed. Regular oral hygiene at home, including brushing and flossing twice daily, help keep the gums in good health.
Dry mouth may happen occasionally, but regular dry mouth can cause oral health problems. Some health conditions and medications can lead to dry mouth, which reduces the saliva flow that washes food debris away. Without this cleansing effect, tooth decay and other oral health problems may be more common.
You may have tooth sensitivity if your teeth hurt when you eat hot or cold foods. This can happen because of gum disease, worn fillings, cavities, or fractured teeth, all exposing more of the dentin inside the tooth.
Tooth sensitivity isn’t limited to hot or cold foods and drinks for some. Breathing in cold air, consuming acidic, sweet, or sour foods or drinks, or regular brushing and flossing can cause pain.
Mouth sores can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. In most cases, they’re harmless beyond some pain.
Common mouth sores include:
- Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, occur inside the cheeks, tongue, or gums. They’re not contagious and have many possible causes.
- Cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus and occur on the edge of the lips. They’re highly contagious and may come and go, but there’s no cure.
- Thrush, or oral candidiasis, is a yeast infection that can occur in people with diabetes, people with compromised immune systems, and denture wearers.
Loose or Missing Teeth
The average adult between 20 and 64 has three or more decayed or missing teeth. This is more than a cosmetic issue, as missing teeth can impact how you chew or speak. The remaining teeth can also shift, and the bone surrounding the tooth may erode. Bridges, dentures, and implants are all options to replace a missing tooth and restore the look and function of the teeth.
Tooth decay, or cavities, is a common health problem at any age. This occurs when the plaque in the mouth combines with sugars or starches in the food you eat, producing acids that attack the tooth enamel. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent tooth decay, but it’s important to keep up with regular dental checkups to find and treat cavities early.
The teeth can shift over the years, resulting in the overlapping or crowding of several teeth. This usually occurs in the upper and lower front teeth. When teeth are crowded or overlapping, they’re more difficult to keep clean and may risk dental decay and gum disease. Teeth may also get more wear and tear from an uneven bite.
Halitosis, or bad breath, is an embarrassing problem to have. Many issues can cause bad breath, however, including:
- Gum disease
- Oral cancer
- Dry mouth
- Bacteria on the tongue
Using mouthwash and regular oral hygiene can help bad breath, but it’s important to determine the underlying cause of chronic bad breath.
Oral cancer can affect anyone at any age, but it’s more common after age 40. Though it can be fatal, many oral cancers can be diagnosed and treated successfully in the early stages.
Some of the risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Alcohol use
- Human papillomavirus
The symptoms may include:
- Sores that don’t heal or bleed
- Thick or hard spots or lumps
- Rough areas in the mouth
- Numbness, pain, or tenderness
- Changes in the bite, or how the teeth fit together
- Difficulty chewing or moving the tongue or jaw
Regular dental visits help with the early detection of oral cancers.
Address Common Dental Concerns Over 50 with Your Family Dentist
Your oral health matters at any age. Changes in the body can cause many oral health conditions that range from uncomfortable to dangerous, which is why it’s important to see a family dentist for regular checkups. At Albion Family Dental, we offer a range of general and cosmetic dentistry services to families in the Albion area. Contact us today to schedule your appointment! 585-589-9044