Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA
From aching joints and back pain to facial wrinkles, age takes a toll on the body. As if those aches and pains and visible effects weren’t enough of a reminder that life is going by way too fast, let’s not forget about how your dental health changes through the years. While many of these challenges will be most relevant to those 65 years old and up, individuals as young as in their 40s may begin experiencing these dental health problems. Dr. Nicol Cook, a family dentist serving Poway and Rancho Bernardo, wants you to know about the six ways oral health changes with age.
Oral health is as important as ever
Maintaining good oral hygiene and routine dental visits are always important, starting from infancy and continuing on for the rest of your life. While it may seem like everything regarding your health is downhill from here, that doesn’t give you a reason to give up on your teeth. Taking care of your oral health now is just as important, if not more than it was in your youth. Be sure that you stick with brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily. Also, even if you wear dentures or have no teeth, you still should visit the dentist for checkups because gum disease and oral cancer still are possible risks.
Tooth sensitivity is more likely
It’s probably evident to you that your body is wearing down and just not the same as it was decades ago. Your teeth, unfortunately, are not immune to these changes as you age. Dental enamel is the most durable substance in the entire body but just think of the use (and maybe abuse!) they’ve been subjected to through the years. Consuming acidic foods and beverages can wear down your dental enamel, causing tooth sensitivity. Also, there are other dental health problems that may cause tooth sensitivity, so we recommend a consultation with Dr. Cook if you experience tooth sensitivity of any type to prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.
Your medications could be causing dry mouth
Taking blood thinners is common as you get older. But, unfortunately, one of the side effects is that is may cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is more than just annoying; it increases your risk of developing cavities and gum disease. Talk to your doctor and your dentist if you experience chronic dry mouth and believe that it is related to medication that you take. Do not, however, stop taking any medication without your doctor’s approval.
Limited dexterity may affect your ability to maintain oral hygiene
As is the case for most aging adults, their dexterity becomes limited. This is especially true for the hands, which may make it difficult for you to hold your toothbrush or floss properly. If your dexterity affects or limits your ability to take care of your teeth and gums, consider getting an electric toothbrush, which does a lot of the brushing for you and has a larger handle to hold. You might also consider using floss sticks or a water flosser to clean between your teeth. Speak to your dentist and discuss which alternatives might be best for you.
You are more likely to develop dental health problems
Adults over the age of 65 are more likely to develop dental problems such as cavities and gum disease. While this may be a result of not having dental insurance, lack of access to proper dental care could also be to blame. With or without dental insurance, those routine checkups are essential. Fixing a small problem in its earliest stage costs less than dealing with extensive decay or dental treatments. If transportation is an issue and you are not able to drive yourself to the dentist, consider asking a family member or trusted friend to take you. If that is not an option, check your area for local public transportation options or for churches or other non-profit organizations that may offer this type of service to the elderly.
Your oral health may affect your overall health
Ever heard that the mouth is the window to the body? It’s true! Numerous studies have linked the importance of good oral health to overall health. This means that if you aren’t taking care of your mouth, then your body will suffer as a consequence. Poor oral hygiene is linked not only to cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss, but could have life-threatening effects on the body, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and even dementia. While other factors contribute to these diseases, you could do your health a favor by taking better care of your mouth.
No one really likes the thought of getting older and the changes that the body goes through, but taking care of your oral health is essential no matter your age. If you would like to learn more or to schedule an appointment, call (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.