Many seniors think that their age means they’re crossing over into their metallic years – that growing older means silver hair and gold teeth. But aging doesn’t mean your dental health has to suffer. In fact, a recent statement from former Surgeon General Richard Carmona states “About 70% of individuals 65 and older still retain their teeth.” If you prioritize your oral health and see premier State College dentist Dr. Chris Devlin, you can be part of that 70%. Let’s examine some dental challenges aging causes and review Dr. Devlin’s tips for keeping your winning smile as you age.
What Oral Health Challenges Do Seniors Face?
As you progress through your aging journey, you’ll probably deal with several common dental issues that affect elders.
- Dry Mouth – From both medications and natural changes in the body, dry mouth affects many seniors.
- Attrition – Wear and tear can have an impact on all parts of the body, including teeth. Attrition is the declining condition of the teeth from basic chewing and grinding.
- Root Decay – Acidic foods can cause tooth enamel to break down, which results in the exposure of the tooth root. When there’s no enamel to protect teeth, tooth roots can decay.
- Gum Disease – Bacteria from plaque can lead to gum disease. Tobacco use, poor diet, and diseases like diabetes, anemia, and cancer can make things worse, increasing the likelihood of gum disease.
- Oral Cancer – Senior 65 and over are 7 times more likely to develop oral cancer than younger individuals.
How Can I Take Care Of My Teeth As I Grow Older?
Dr. Devlin offers the following tips on taking care of your dental health as you enjoy your golden years.
- Brush twice a day. Be sure to do this gently for two minutes using fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash that does not have alcohol in it, since alcohol makes the mouth dryer.
- Stop smoking and avoid tobacco products.
- Increase oral hydration by drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol. Also, avoid drinking alcohol because it dehydrates your entire body, including your mouth.
- Limit sugary foods since these not only cause tooth decay and gum disease, but can also increase your risk for oral thrush (an unpleasant and painful fungal infection in the mouth).
- See Dr. Chris Devlin at least twice a year for regular checkups, cleanings, and other dental services. Seeing your dentist in State College is vital to staying on top of your oral health.
- Ask Dr. Devlin about oral cancer screenings – early detection is key, and his professional know-how will help you every step of the way.
- Prioritize dental health – don’t wait for your oral health to suffer before seeing Dr. Devlin. Waiting for treatment can cause serious health problems. Even cavities can induce major infections and lead to death.
- Remember that Medicare isn’t sufficient when it comes to dental coverage – most dental services aren’t covered by traditional Medicare. Be prepared by seeking additional dental coverage – most supplemental dental plans are very reasonable (with premiums averaging around only $30/month).
Don’t be resigned to the myth that getting older means losing your teeth – there’s still time to make your smile healthy. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Chris Devlin, the most exceptional dentist in State College, and keep your winning smile no matter what age you are!