Top Dental Issues From Aging
As we get older it becomes easier to forget to take care of our teeth frequently. Schedules become packed, daily life gets in the way, and there are no parents to remind us of the need to visit the dentist twice a year, at the least! As a result, although short and simple, the act of brushing our teeth can be easily forgotten. But natural changes can occur to our teeth over time as well. As we get older our enamel weakens, our gums recede, and recent studies have even connected poor oral care to mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Many of these conditions can be prevented if you know what to look out for. Here are the top dental problems in adults!
Beginning as gingivitis, which is reversible, gum disease is a later stage which can evolve into a worse form called periodontitis. Gum disease is a large risk because it will often sneak up without any warning signs. Maintaining proper oral care at home is just as important as professional dental cleanings at least once every six months. In the event that gum disease progresses, more frequent hygiene appointments are necessary. Eating a proper diet can also help to keep your enamel strong and teeth healthy.
Tooth decay is what occurs when enamel breaks down from bacterial infiltration and allows for cavities to form. Tooth decay leads to many issues, some of which will be discussed below including tooth breakage then subsequent loss or sensitivity. Decay can be prevented by brushing twice per day with fluoride toothpaste, using dental floss once per day, and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash daily as well.
According to the ADA the average adult between the ages of 20 to 64 has three or more decayed or missing teeth. For many, leaving missing teeth untreated can be unsightly and affect self-esteem. Additionally, missing teeth can lead to a host of problems including shifting which changes how the teeth connect when you bite. This may result in headaches, muscle pain, teeth wear, further tooth loss, and even Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (or "TMD"). Thankfully there are several options available to replace lost teeth including:
Implants are a popular and effective strategy that blend esthetically with your other teeth. Dental implants are a secure and stable replacement for missing teeth and are excellent for long term restoration.
Dentures are an option to consider if most or all of your teeth are missing. They are fully removable and are custom fit to each patient. While dentures are one option, they are not the most secure due to lack of retention in many cases. It is wise to discuss which option is the best for you. Dentures are removable appliances that can be custom made to fit comfortably and look natural.
Dental bridges are an excellent option to “bridge” the gap where a tooth used to be. They are fixed prostheses (not removable) which depend on implants or natural teeth to anchor them. The health of any implant or natural tooth must be verified prior to establishing a dental bridge as a viable option.
The effects of worn teeth can be much worse than many anticipate. As we get older, and have used our teeth naturally over the years, it causes natural teeth wear that leaves them susceptible to further issues. Cracks, chips, and indentation are some of the effects that you may be more vulnerable to with age. If the teeth become weakened you may notice decreased function, causing it to be more difficult to eat certain foods, as well as tooth fractures which may cause them to break or result in tooth loss altogether.
When a tooth infection (due to decay or periodontal disease) is left untreated it can reach deep into the tooth’s layers including the pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels connected to the tooth. When this becomes infected, a root canal is needed in order to remove the pulp that has become infected in order to save the tooth. Root canal infections are particularly dangerous due to their ability to spread to the surrounding tissue in the mouth and will not go away until professionally treated. As we get older, we become more susceptible to these conditions due to weakened enamel that happens over time. There are several symptoms tied to root infections including swollen or tender tissue, pain, bad smell, and possibly pus discharge that is yellowish or discolored.
There are many other things to worry about as we get older, and we don’t need to add our teeth to that list. Practice a routine every day to get in the habit of brushing, and if you have trouble maintaining the habit find a way to reward yourself for remembering. Be sure to check in with your dentist for regular visits as well. Visiting the dentist is the best way to ensure that your oral health remains positive and can save thousands of dollars through early detection of problems such as gum disease and tooth decay preventing much more severe oral complications in the future.
Additional questions? Just ask!
Our expert staff can help you establish a dental routine, or help identify any issues you may be experiencing. Feel free to schedule an appointment at any of our Dental365 locations in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Contact us at (844) 365-DENTAL for more information or to schedule an appointment.