Aging and Oral Health
One inescapable fact of getting older is that you end up having to deal with health problems that you never had to deal with before. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in poor health, just that your health needs have changed as a result of aging. Your nutritional needs are different, your sleep needs are different, and your activity & exercise needs are different. It should come as no surprise that your dental health needs are different as well.
Dry Mouth Is More Than Just a Minor Problem
Dry mouth is not an uncommon experience for baby boomers.
You may experience dry mouth more frequently than you did in your younger years. You may be tempted to brush this off as an annoying, but minor, irritation. However, dry mouth can be a big problem for your dental health. Your mouth uses saliva to wash bacteria away from your teeth – if you don’t have enough of it, decay-causing bacteria has more of a chance to cause cavities in your teeth. Increased bacteria in your mouth can also lead to more painful tooth infections.
Dry mouth isn’t just a normal aspect of aging. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it has a cause. It could be caused by a medication, for example, or by hormone fluctuations. Getting to the root cause of your dry mouth can not only make you more comfortable, it can prevent major dental problems in the future.
Age Is A Risk Factor For Oral Cancer
When most people think of oral cancer, they think of smoking, and it’s true that smoking is a significant risk factor. But there are other risk factors, and age itself is one of them – one that you have no control over.
Oral cancer is very survivable if it’s caught early enough. It has an 83% survival rate if caught before it begins to spread. Once it spreads past the closest lymph nodes to faraway parts of the body, that rate drops to just 38%. Regular oral cancer screenings can help ensure that if you do develop oral cancer, it’s caught during the oral stages when it can be more easily and successfully treated.
Gum Disease Can Lead to Other Serious Health Conditions
Oral health problems don’t just stay in your mouth – they affect the rest of your body as well. Gum disease is a prime example. If you suffer from gingivitis, your risk of serious conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes all increase significantly. It’s more important now than ever to work with your dentist to keep your gums healthy, and to address early signs of gum disease right away.