Dental health for seniors: What you should know about tooth decay

Dental health for seniors: What you should know about tooth decay
June 02 04:13 2016 Print This Article

Close-up of patient’s open mouth before oral checkup with mirror near byTooth decay is the most common cause of tooth loss at any age. Unfortuantely, oral health tends to deteriorate as we get older – and, even though we know better, we don’t always care for our teeth as we should. Seniors, in particular, should be aware that dental problems can escalate with time. Here’s why:

The Timeless Tragedy of Tooth Decay

It’s common to think that tooth decay mostly affects kids and adolescents. An overindulgence in sugary snacks, soda, and even bottled formula is proven to wreak havoc on teeth – and kids aren’t always the most dedicated brushers. Surprisingly, however, adolescence is not the time of life most people need to worry so heavily on the oral health consequences.

As we become adults – and our parents are no longer encouraging us to care for our teeth or see the dentist – we become less attentive to preventing cavities and decay.Life strains, limited personal time, and poor lifestyle choices (unhealthful diet, smoking) lead to one in two adults over the age of 30 developing periodontal (gum) disease. Nearly 65 million adults nationwide have some level of advanced gum disease.

This dental disease begins as gingivitis – a fully treatable condition. Symptoms include swollen, sore, discolored, or bleeding gums. Better personal oral health care can often reverse the condition. Regular trips to your dentist enable the professional to catch it in time. But when those steps are ignored, gingivitis can quickly advance to a more serious and sometimes life-threatening disease. Periodontitis is, in fact, the primary cause of tooth loss for adults between the ages of 30 and 50.

How Does This Affect Seniors?

Baby Boomers are well into retirement age, and according to the CDC, the U.S. population is expecting a boom of 48 million seniors by 2050. This generation may find that caring for their teeth throughout the golden years is challenging because dental care is often not covered by retirement plans. More seniors than ever before are keeping their original chompers and, unfortunately, 93 percent have dental caries and 18 percent of seniors have untreated decay.

Dental health1Root cavities are the main cause for this specific age group. As we age, our gum lines naturally recede. This makes it easy for bacteria form on the actual roots of the teeth right beneath the gums. Various medications are also responsible for causing mouth dryness, which encourages the spread of this type of bacteria. Bone loss due to advanced periodontitis is the resulting cause of mouth-based bone loss in 25 percent of seniors.

This type of decay can also occur along the edges of fillings or other dental work. It spreads quickly and can require expensive and extensive treatment. Sometimes a filling or crown simply needs to be replaced, but other times it can attack the root so badly that the patient needs a root canal or tooth extraction.

It’s never too late

Senior dental care should not be an afterthought. The professionals at Sachar Dental can help you keep decay at bay for a sparkling, natural smile that lasts forever. Contact Dr. Sachar today to discuss oral health care for your golden years.

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About Article Author

Mike Morgan
Mike Morgan

Mike Morgan is a health enthusiast and has written several health articles for various health magazines.

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