Each age group has its own set of dental challenges to face, beginning with babies who have to deal with teething. As they move toward adolescence they have to deal with losing their baby teeth and the eruption of their permanent teeth, and don’t forget the “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” stage. Then there are the tweens and teens who suffer with cavities and braces. And as you continue to age there are unsightly stains, gum disease, and other things to worry about. As with every age group, there are also special dental challenges that seniors face.
Oral Health Risks
Unfortunately, with age comes a number of oral health risks. However, this is not so much to do with “age” as the infirmities that come with age, such as diabetes, arthritis, and more. Some problems seniors may face include:
Discoloration: As you age not only do your teeth take a beating from the foods and beverages you consume, smoking, and other habits, but your enamel gradually thins making your off-white dentin more noticeable. As a result, your teeth can look darker and become stained.
Periodontal Disease and Tooth Loss: Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss and, although anyone can develop it, it tends to strike the older set.
Stomatitis: The inflammation of your gingival tissue can be due to a number of oral factors including poor dental hygiene, the Candida albicans fungus, and poor fitting dentures.
Dry mouth: Dry mouth is often caused by medications which become a more common need as you age. Radiation treatments to the head/neck due to cancer can reduce saliva flow, and certain diseases also cause dry mouth such as Sjögren’s syndrome.
Root Decay: With age often comes receding gums. Because our roots are usually protected by your gingival tissue, they are not covered with enamel like the rest of your tooth. As your gums recede, or shrink, your roots become exposed to harmful decay-causing bacteria and acids.