September is Healthy Aging Month, and there’s no better time than right now to get a handle on your health. The process of aging affects multiple parts of the human body, including your oral health! As we age, teeth go through a normal process of wear and tear. Wear and tear are generally inevitable consequences of aging but many of the effects that it may cause (including enamel erosion and fractures/cracks) can be fixed by a dentist to prevent pain and retain function. Aging may also affect the mouth in several other ways, some of which include (but are not limited to) the following:
1. Increased risk of oral cancer
According to The Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the average age of oral cancer patients is 62 years old. The risk for this type of cancer increases with age, which prompts the need for oral cancer screenings yearly (or more frequently based on individual risk factors).
2. Decrease in saliva production
With age and the use of certain medications, the body may produce less saliva which directly contributes to dry mouth. Saliva is important in the prevention of tooth decay as it helps to wash away food and debris after eating. Since dry mouth is more commonly experienced as people age, tooth decay may also be more common in older adults as well.
3. Rise in risk for periodontal disease (gum disease)
53% of seniors ages 65 and older have moderate to severe periodontal disease (American Journal of Public Health). Gum disease may cause symptoms such as:
- Receding gums
- Tooth loss
- Bad breath
- And more…
4. Increase in the prevalence of tooth loss
Adults aged 75 years old and above were reported to be twice as likely to suffer from tooth loss than adults ages 65 to 74 years old (American Journal of Public Health). This may be due to increased wear and tear over the years coupled with tooth decay, gum disease and/or other dental health, financial and socioeconomic conditions.
With all of the published health information available to us, it’s important to take advantage of this new-found knowledge to stay in good health. The following measures can be taken to prevent the negative effects of aging on your mouth:
1. Visit your dentist every six months (or more frequently, as recommended by your healthcare professional)
2. Don’t forget to keep up with daily dental hygiene (brushing twice a day and floss daily)
3. Make sure to get an oral cancer screening at least once a year
4. Stay hydrated to prevent and combat dry mouth
Advanced DDS is a full-service dental practice in Garden City, NY where we provide all of our patients with a uniquely comforting dental experience. Schedule your dental consultation at 516-825-1100 today.