A common misconception is that as we age, losing our teeth is inevitable. It is true that as we age, there are complications that can change the way we go about maintaining good oral health. However, with proper care, your teeth can last a lifetime. If you, or a loved one, have reached the 65 year milestone, there are some things you should know about keeping your teeth healthy.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
This dry mouth condition can affect nearly 40% of those 65 and older. Dry mouth is not a normal symptom of growing old. A main reason it is so prevalent in those 65 and older is that they are more likely to be taking one of the over 500 medications that have dry mouth as a side-effect. The chances of xerostomia increase significantly when you are on 4 or more daily prescription medications. It is important to let us know of any medications you are on so steps can be taken to avoid dry mouth and its associated dental issues, such as cavities and mucositis.
Mouths Change as We Age
As you get older, the nerves in the teeth can become smaller and less sensitive. Without the early warning signal of pain, tooth damage and decay can become serious before they are recognized. Periodontal disease is another condition that often progresses without pain until it is in the advanced stages.
Average Age of Those with Oral Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, the average age for those diagnosed with oral cancer is 62. The early stages typically do not show any signs. Later signs may include open sores, white or reddish patches, and changes in the tongue or the lining of the mouth.
Regular Checkups Catch Problems
Regular checkups are recommended for everyone, but as you age, it becomes even more important. We can diagnose these dental issues associated with aging in the early stages, and with proper care you can maintain your healthy smile your entire life.