As we progress from infancy to adolescence to early adulthood, we become smarter and stronger. Then we hit a stumbling block. We may carry on acquiring wisdom but we start to decline physically as the aging process kicks in.
Your mouth is by no means immune from problems associated with aging, although you may be unaware of oral health issues until they have become serious. Here, with the help of Kitchener dentists at Lancaster Dental, we will look at some common oral health problems that develop as people get older.
Erosion of Tooth Enamel
Your teeth have to work hard over the years, every time you eat. This constant wear and tear results in erosion of the teeth’s protective outer layer, the enamel. Avoiding certain bad habits can slow down damage to the enamel. So, try not to chew on hard substances such as ice or pencils, don’t grind your teeth or clench your jaw, and avoid acidic food and drinks like citrus fruits and fruit juices.
Dryness of the Mouth
As you get older, your mouth may tend to dry out, particularly if you take certain prescription medications, including treatments for depression, allergies or high blood pressure. An adequate supply of saliva is imperative to wash away bacteria and food particles, and keep your gums and tongue healthy. If you suspect your dry mouth is a side effect of medication, ask your doctor for advice.
Besides providing a firm anchor for your teeth, your gums play an important role as a defence against microbes. With aging, gums can become weak, especially if you smoke. This can lead to gum diseases, including gingivitis, and these infections can spread to other parts of your body. To keep gums in good condition, a robust oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing becomes even more important as we grow older. If you are a smoker, kicking the habit will improve your oral health and overall well being.
Risk of Oral Cancer
The chance of developing cancer of the mouth increases with age, and again, smoking is a major factor, and so is drinking too much alcohol. Many cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in people aged over 55. Signs of mouth cancer may include a bleeding sore that does not heal, thickening of the skin in your mouth, loose teeth, dental plates becoming wobbly, and difficulties in chewing properly. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 4,700 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cavity cancer in 2017.
Regular Check-Ups are Crucial
Lancaster Dental, your Kitchener dental office, stresses the importance of maintaining regular visits to your dentist for check-ups as you grow older. Ideally, from the age of 50 you should increase the frequency of these visits. Lancaster Dental also recommends regular oral cancer screenings.
If you detect any lesions or bumps in your mouth, or have problems swallowing, tell your dentist as soon as possible.
If you need further advice on oral hygiene issues associated with aging, contact Lancaster Dental.