As we grow older our bodies tire of all the hard work we have put in over the years; raising children, working long hours, looking after our homes, gardens, friends, family and neighbours. Similarly, our mouths and teeth start to ‘retire.’ Gums may start to shrink and recede, causing pain and sensitivity, and teeth may begin to loosen and fall out.
Listed below are common senior dental health issues:
- Tooth discolouration. Teeth may darken from years of stain-causing food and drinks such as coffee and red wine. This can be helped with teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding or veneers.
- Dry mouth. It is a misconception that we produce less saliva as we get older. A dry mouth is usually a symptom of mouth cancer or gum disease. Visiting a dentist and hygienist regularly can help to spot signs of oral cancer and administer treatment as early as possible.
- Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). The build up of plaque and bacteria over time can lead to gum disease, which may result in tooth loss and gum abscesses. Tobacco, alcohol, poor diet and cancer can contribute to the development of gum disease. Again, regular visits to the dentist and hygienist can help to keep gum disease at bay.
- Root decay. Receding gums caused by ageing can cause yellow ‘cementum’ to show through, leaving teeth exposed and vulnerable to decay. Dentists have a number of treatments to help manage receding gums.
- Diminished taste, trouble swallowing and difficulty speaking. Sometimes implant retained dentures can be used to tackle this problem.
- Denture-Induced-Stomatitis. Results from ill fitting dentures, poor oral hygiene and/or build-up of fungus. Again, dental implants are a possible solution.
- Medication induced problems. Medication used to treat diseases such as diabetes, epilepsy and high blood pressure can adversely affect oral health. Speak to your dentist if you are taking any medication that could have an impact on your oral health.
- Tooth loss (resulting from gum disease). There are many options available for missing teeth, including dentures, dental bridges and dental implants.