As we get older, our teeth tend to develop more and more problems. Fortunately, Americans are keeping their teeth longer today than they ever have before. We’re developing fewer dental problems as we age and holding on to our teeth far longer than our grandparents.
But it’s not all happy smiles: those over 50 are at a serious risk for several major dental issues. Here are the top 5 most serious dental problems plaguing people over 50 today:
1) Dry mouth
Yes, dry mouth is considered a dental problem. Many people don’t realize that saliva protects our teeth against decay. When your body stops producing saliva, your teeth are at a greater risk of decaying and forming cavities.
The secret behind saliva’s power is in its calcium and phosphate content. That calcium and phosphate prevents demineralization of your teeth.
Sometimes, our mouths dry naturally as we age. But in most cases, dry mouth is caused by prescriptions. If you suffer from dry mouth, then you need to find a way to stimulate saliva production. Some people chew gum, while others just drink sips of water throughout the day.
2) Tooth decay
One of the most serious dental problems of old age involves the weak root of your tooth. As we get older, the root of the tooth becomes softer. When this root is exposed to contaminants, it can quickly develop a cavity.
One of the easiest ways to avoid tooth decay is to start taking fluoride – yes, the same fluoride kids get when they go to the dentist. 80% of Americans now drink fluorinated water, but taking the occasional fluoride rinse can greatly reduce your likelihood of developing cavities.
3) Oral cancer
As if you needed another cancer to worry about. Nearly 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Approximately half of those people will die from the disease.
As our bodies age, we tend to be at a higher risk of oral cancer. Years of smoking and heavy drinking can severely impact the health of our mouth. To make matters worse, Human Papilloma Virus was also recently proven to cause oral cancer.
Fortunately, oral cancer has a high survival rate when detected early. Birmingham dentist, Dr. Gentry Gonzalez encourages people to look for signs of oral cancer earlier. This can be done in the dentist office or even checking for abnormalities at home.
4) Tooth crowding
Shifting teeth and a crowded mouth aren’t just teenage problems: our teeth constantly shift as we age, and that can cause serious crowding problems in those over 50.
Have you noticed food getting stuck in your teeth more frequently? It may be a result of crowded teeth.
Crowded teeth are more than just an aesthetic problem: crowded teeth are more difficult to clean, which means you may be at a higher risk of tooth decay, tooth erosion, and all the problems that come with those issues.
Most people over 50 aren’t willing to get braces. Fortunately, braces aren’t always necessary. Visit an orthodontist to get a retainer. Or, simply visit the dentist for more frequent cleanings.
5) Gum disease
Gum disease is an extremely serious problem that eventually leads to the loss of your teeth. Fortunately, gum disease is also very easy to spot.
If your gums are red, swollen, painful, or bleed easily, then you likely have gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease. When left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. Periodontitis causes the gum to pull away from the tooth, creating pockets within your gums that could develop infections.
Fortunately, gum disease is easily avoided by regular visits to the dentist. Those who maintain good oral hygiene are much less likely to develop gum disease.
As you age, it’s important to keep an eye out for these five possible dental issues. We don’t want to scare you, but we do want to inform and keep you from any unnecessary harm and illness.