May is Older Americans Health Month. At DC Perio & Implants we recognize that healthy teeth and gums are an integral part of our older patients overall health. As we get older, the social aspect of our life becomes more important, and being able to go out to restaurants and eat with our friends becomes an integral part of our daily life.
At DC Perio & Implants we know that healthy teeth are necessary for a healthy body. With good habits at home like brushing, flossing, fluoride, regular dental care, and avoiding tobacco products, older adults are able to keep their teeth a lifetime. There are some specific concerns when it comes to older Americans oral health. Some of these items of interest are listed below:
At DC Perio & Implants we encourage you to be proactive in keeping your mouth healthy by watching for signs of dry mouth. Dry mouth (xerostomia) happens when salivary glands fail to work at their normal rate. Saliva provides a natural cleansing action in the mouth. As the body ages, it stops producing as much saliva. This can also be due increasing number of medications that older Americans are being prescribed. The lack of saliva causes dry mouth and increases the chance of tooth decay.
If you’ve lost some or all of your natural teeth, complete dentures, dental implants, or partials can replace your missing teeth and your smile. Replacing missing teeth will benefit both your appearance and your health. Without support from a denture or implants, facial muscles sag, making a person look older. An evaluation by our periodontists will help determine the best tooth replacement plan for you.
At DC Perio & Implants we encourage our patients to practice good oral hygiene. Even if you wear full dentures or have implant supported dentures. It is appropriate to brush your gums, tongue and palate every morning with a soft-bristled brush. Additionally, we recommend flossing your dental implants before you insert your dentures.
As one ages, gingival (gum) recession often occurs, exposing the teeth’s root surfaces. Root caries are common among older adults due to their limited production of saliva. Root decay can progress quickly so it is important to have regular preventative cleaning appointments. Additionally, we encourage fluoride application at your cleaning appointments and adjunct fluoride used if recommended. Furthermore, at DC Perio & Implants we evaluate your teeth and gum to determine if you could benefit from gum grafting to prevent further recession or potential root cavities.
Everyone, even older adults with dentures need an annual oral cancer screening. Oral cancer most often happens in people over age 40. Treatment works best before the disease spreads. Pain is not usually an early symptom of the disease. A dental check-up is a good time for your dentist to look for signs of oral cancer. At DC Perio & Implants we conduct an oral cancer exam at each cleaning appointment. Even if you have lost all your natural teeth, you should still see your dentist for regular oral cancer exams.