Common Dental Concerns for Adults Over 60
Adults over 60 may be tempted to forego regular dental checkups, but staying proactive about senior dental care can prevent unnecessary health issues that affect more than teeth. In fact, if you neglect your dental care, it can take a toll on your body. Untreated decay and infections can make conditions such as diabetes, heart disease worse or cause it. Additionally, missing teeth or incorrectly sized bridges create pain and can prevent seniors from eating healthy, sleeping or enjoying life.
Cavities & Dry Mouth
As adults age, they enter another time period of being prone to cavities. Increasing medication use during the senior years leads to dry mouth for some medications, and in turn, creates optimal conditions for the formation of cavities. That’s why it is important to schedule regular dental visits and keep your dentist informed about prescriptions and health conditions that may affect your dental care and health.
Dentist Recommendations for Relieving Dry Mouth
- Avoid food or drink that causes dry mouth irritation like fruit juice, coffee, soda, and alcohol.
- Stimulate the production of saliva with sugar-free gum or lozenges.
- Drink more water and carry it with you everywhere to keep your mouth lubricated.
- Use mouthwash or other oral moisture solutions.
- Consult with our doctor about alternatives to existing medications and/or dosage amounts.
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
- Ask your dentist about fluoride gels to protect from cavities.
Gum Disease in Adults Over 60
Bacteria in plaque irritate gums and make them bleed. This condition is known as periodontal or gum disease, and it is usually painless until it reaches the advanced stage. When gums are left untreated, they pull away from teeth and create deep pockets where food particles and plaque build-up. Eventually, gum disease destroys gums, bone, and supportive ligaments. Regular dental checkups help to prevent and/or treat the disease.
Each year the American Cancer Society reports roughly 35,000 cases of mouth, tongue, and throat cancer. The average age for diagnosis is 62. During checkups, your dentist looks for signs of mouth cancer, which is why routine visits are a must for early detection.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer: Mouth or Throat
- Mouth sores that bleed or do not heal
- A thick lump or hard spot
- Rough or crusty area
- Numbness, tenderness, or pain
- Change to the bite or how teeth fit together when biting down