Whether it’s a child nervously sitting down for a first dentist appointment, a teen getting braces, or a recent retiree preparing for senior dental care, our team at Twin Peaks Dental & Orthodontics is here to help all of our patients transition through the different stages of their oral health.
While protecting your oral health matters at all ages, the practice becomes even more important as we age. Unfortunately, we see many patients who mistakenly believe that the deterioration of their oral health is just a natural part of the aging process. In truth, decay, gum disease, and tooth loss don’t naturally happen if we practice quality oral hygiene at home, schedule regular dental exams and cleanings, and eat a balanced diet.
So that you can enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime, here are a few things to keep in mind about your oral health.
Seniors Suffer from More Oral Health Problems
Tooth decay and gum disease become far more problematic in seniors when compared to those in midlife. In fact, over 70 percent of seniors 65 and older suffer from either moderate or severe gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Severe gum disease, also referred to as periodontitis, ranks as the leading cause of permanent tooth loss among adults.
There are many reasons why oral health problems disproportionately impact seniors. First, our teeth become less resilient as we age. Tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of our teeth that protects the delicate interior, becomes more susceptible to the effects of decay and erosion as we age. As a result, seniors must work harder to maintain their oral health by brushing and flossing more diligently. This can be difficult for seniors suffering from arthritis or other health conditions that impair their dexterity and ability to properly brush.
Many seniors also rely on Medicare for their health insurance. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover dental care, making it harder for seniors on a fixed budget to receive the regular cleanings and exams their oral health requires.
Seniors also take a high number of prescription medications, many of which cause dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth prevents the mouth from staying properly hydrated, which increases the risk of decay and erosion.
When combined, these types of problems make it far more difficult to manage senior oral health. But don’t be discouraged. Setting the foundation for quality oral health when younger can make it substantially easier to protect your teeth and gums during your senior years.
Teeth Can Become More Sensitive
While gum disease impacts many seniors, the disease affects Americans of all ages. Over 47 percent of adults 30 and older suffer from either moderate or severe gum disease.
When left untreated, the disease causes gum tissue to become inflamed, swollen, and tender. Over time, this chronic infection will cause our gums to slowly move away from the base of our teeth. This gum recession creates pockets near the base of our teeth that exposes the delicate roots and nerves located there.
When exposed to hot or cold stimuli, the roots and nerves of our teeth can cause discomfort, which leads to sensitivity. Since gum disease is so prevalent, it’s not uncommon for many people to start developing tooth sensitivity as they age. However, the condition can be treated by our doctors at Twin Peaks Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.
Tooth Loss is Avoidable
A healthy mouth contains 28 teeth – if you subtract wisdom teeth from the equation – but the average number of teeth for adults in the U.S. between the ages of 20 to 34 is 27. The number of teeth people have missing only increases with age, as the average shrinks to 25 for adults 35 to 49 and 22 for those between the ages of 50 to 65. Seniors over the age of 65 have only an average of 18 permanent teeth remaining.
Permanent tooth loss can cause a variety of long-term oral problems, including difficulty eating, drinking, and speaking. The space created by missing teeth can also cause neighboring teeth to shift out of place as they move to fill the vacancy. Seniors who are missing multiple teeth can also develop nutritional problems, as they tend to eat softer, less healthy foods due to having trouble chewing.
Fortunately, despite these statistics, tooth loss is avoidable. It’s no coincidence that tooth loss rates coincide with the number of adults suffering from moderate to severe gum disease. As severe gum disease ranks as the leading cause of permanent tooth loss in adults, preventing this disease is paramount to protecting your long-term oral health.
At Twin Peaks Dental & Orthodontics, We Can Help
Enjoying a healthy smile is a lifelong commitment to practicing quality oral hygiene and
receiving regular dental care. At Twin Peaks Dental & Orthodontics, we are here to provide the dental care you need to protect your smile for a lifetime.
Contact our office today to schedule your next appointment.