While we all hope to avoid tooth problems and issues as we age, this isn’t always possible, no matter how much you take care of your teeth. As your body changes, you may need more help from your dentist in Belle Fourche in order to maintain your oral health. Here are some things to keep in mind when visiting the dentist as you age, so that you can get the most out of your visits and avoid complications later on.
Gum Disease is More Common in Seniors
Gum disease is very common in seniors and it can lead to a number of serious health issues. This bacterial infection can lead to inflammation that spreads beyond your gums, causing swelling and redness in other parts of your mouth and face. It can even spread to tissues or organs, leading to further health problems. Seniors are at a higher risk for gum disease because as we age, our immune systems weaken. Senior citizens are also less likely to brush as frequently or maintain good oral hygiene habits. That’s why it’s important for elderly family members (or friends) to visit their dentist in Belle Fourche twice a year for a cleaning — or more often if they have any signs of gum disease.
The Risk of Tooth and Jaw Fractures Increase
Aging is generally associated with a decrease in bone density which means elderly individuals can develop more fractures than younger people. But that’s not all. Seniors are also at increased risk of tooth and jaw fractures. Oftentimes, seniors lose teeth as their jawbones shrink; consequently, if they’re unable to bite properly and don’t wear dentures regularly, their chances of experiencing a fracture increase substantially. Fractures in these areas can be dangerous because they are exposed to bacteria that cause infection. Infection can spread quickly and put pressure on nearby nerves. This type of infection is especially risky for seniors whose immune systems may already be compromised by other age-related conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
Oral Health Issues Can Lead to Whole-Body Issues
A common misconception is that oral health and whole-body health are completely unrelated. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Although there are still a lot of questions to be answered, studies have shown that gum disease may be associated with atherosclerosis in large arteries and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. This makes it even more important for seniors to visit their dentist in Belle Fourche at least twice a year to monitor teeth for signs of decay or gum disease. Without regular dental checkups, you might not notice that you have gum disease until it’s already caused permanent damage. Without getting treatment from your dentist soon enough, you could end up having tooth loss or other dental or whole-body problems.
Missing Teeth Can Affect Overall Health
While losing your teeth as you age isn’t a guarantee, it is quite common. Among people 65 and older, 51 percent of men and 66 percent of women have lost all of their teeth. This can lead to both oral and overall health concerns. Seniors who are missing their teeth often experience a decreased sense of taste, an increased risk for pneumonia, and are more likely to choke on solid foods. Missing teeth can have a huge impact on someone’s life. Luckily, solutions such as dentures, dental implants, and implant-retained dentures can help replace missing teeth and keep seniors healthy.
While our bodies change over time, we can continue to be diligent about our oral health. Make an appointment with your Belle Fourche dentist and keep visiting every six months to maintain optimal dental health for a lifetime.