Monday, December 1, 2014

3 Most Common Dental Problems for Seniors

With age comes wisdom, as the saying goes, but it also comes with a few less-than-appealing characteristics. As we grow older, our bodies generally become weaker and therefore more susceptible to health and physiological problems, including dental health issues. In this post, we'll go over a few of the most common dental health problems for senior citizens and tips for reducing the risk of developing them.

1. Gum Disease

Gingivitis, an early form of gum disease, is fairly common among adults. Older adults can be more prone to this condition for various reasons. Certain medications may alter the body's physiology, limited range of motion may make brushing and flossing difficult, or being on a fixed income could prevent a person from getting professional cleanings or other dental procedures. All of this can contribute to a decline in periodontal health.

Seniors can avoid developing gum disease by first taking care of their overall health the best they can, then following through with yearly dental exams, cleanings and prescribed activities from their dentist. Some seniors may need to see their dentist more than twice a year in order to make sure they're receiving the treatment they need. For seniors on a limited budget, looking into free or reduced cost dental health services could be worthwhile.

2. Oral Cancer

According to dental health experts, the risk of developing oral cancer increases as you get older. Risk is elevated also if you use tobacco products or consume alcohol in heavy amounts. Furthermore, recent studies have found that cases of oral cancer are on the rise due to the discovery that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can cause oral cancer. 

The best way to combat the risk of developing oral cancer is to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as visiting your dentist for regular oral cancer screenings. 

3. Tooth Crowding 

Teeth get more crowded toward the front of the mouth as we age. This is knows as Physiologic Mesial Drift." The condition is common among older adults, even those who have had orthodontic care in their youth. This crowding can cause a variety of other problems, including a decline in dental health due to the teeth becoming so crowded that it is difficult to brush and floss them properly. While some dental professionals have different ideas about what causes this crowding, most agree that there are certain physical attributes (like having a small jaw) that may make a person more prone to problems caused by teeth crowding. The best way to deal with this issue is to have your dentist examine and clean your teeth regularly. The sooner you address tooth crowding, the sooner you can avoid developing more serious complications. Your dentist may recommend adult orthodonture to correct the problem and advise you to see an orthodontist to discuss the options. 

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