It is essential to have regular dental checkups at every phase of your life to maintain good health. That being said, it is especially important for older individuals to remain diligent about their oral health care. Many dental issues that disproportionately affect seniors are difficult to detect in the early stages. Dental professionals, however, can spot problems before they have the chance to damage one’s smile. That’s why it’s crucial that you keep up your appointments with Dr. Robert Harrell and his skilled team at Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne in Charlotte.
Courtesy of the American Dental Association, here are some specific reasons from why visiting the dentist at least twice a year is a vital component of a wellness plan for seniors:
- The demographic of older adults (i.e., 65 years of age and older) is growing and likely will be an increasingly large part of dental practice in the coming years.
- Although better than in years past, the typical aging patient’s baseline health state can be complicated by comorbid conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes mellitus) and physiologic changes associated with aging.
- Older adults may regularly use several prescription and/or over-the-counter medications, making them vulnerable to medication errors, drug interactions or adverse drug reactions.
- Potential physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments associated with aging may make oral health self-care and patient education/communications challenging.
- Dental conditions associated with aging include dry mouth (xerostomia), root and coronal caries, and periodontitis; patients may show increased sensitivity to drugs used in dentistry, including local anesthetics and analgesics. See more at American Dental Association
Medications Can Diminish Your Smile
In general, individuals take more medications in their elder years to address a variety of health issues. Many of these daily medications can dramatically change your smile. When you begin a new long-term prescription it is particularly important to keep a close watch on your smile. One common issue is the fact that many medications can cause dry mouth due to a decrease in saliva production. This can lead your mouth to become a plaque breeding ground. Saliva is necessary for keeping the mouth and gums hydrated and flushing away bacteria. Read more about the link between cavities and medications:
The Link Between Medications and Cavities
You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Here are some common recommendations:
- Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
- Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
- Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
- Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
- Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
- Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
- Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.
Understanding the Problem
Dental problems are among the most common health problems experienced by older adults. In fact, people over 65 with natural teeth have more tooth decay than any other age group and thus continue to need a yearly visit to the dentist.
Older people produce less saliva which is needed to clean the teeth. Gums shrink with age, exposing the tooth to decay or infection. Furthermore, older persons may have difficulty flossing and brushing because of poor vision or problems moving their arms, wrists, and hands.
Dental problems can lead to poor nutrition. Unfortunately, these problems are often not attended to by older persons, particularly men. Read more at Mouth Healthy
It’s Never Too Late To Improve Your Oral Health
We encourage you to take the time today to book your next appointment at Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne. We pride ourselves on providing a welcoming, worry-free, judgement-free atmosphere where our patients receive the best dental care possible.
Don’t put it off any longer; call Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne at 704-541-9888 or use the contact form on this page to set your appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon.