As we get older, we tend to experience more health concerns than we did when we were younger. Our dental health is no different. At my Holland dental office, we want all of our patients to be aware of some of the most common oral health issues that tend to affect those 50 or older.
Like many oral health problems, gum disease can affect overall health. Research has shown a positive correlation between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes, as well as some cancers. In those over age 50, 30% are affected by gum disease.
Many times we think of cavities and decay as something that affects the younger population when, in fact, anywhere up to 60% of those over 50 have recently had a cavity. Decay can be caused by a variety of things including inadequate dental hygiene, softening of teeth as we age, or even dry mouth.
We already know that dry mouth can lead to decay, but why? When the mouth is dry it means there’s not enough saliva production to rinse away bacteria. Saliva also helps keep teeth from softening thanks to its levels of calcium and phosphate. Dry mouth tends to affect the older population more so because of the increased use of medication. Many medicines’ side effects include dry mouth, so it’s important to tell your dentist everything you take.
The name itself describes how serious this particular concern is, but even more so for those over 50. In fact, the likelihood of developing oral cancer greatly increases in those 50 and older. While 45,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and 8,000 actually die from it, the chance of survival greatly increases if caught early.
All of these common oral health concerns can eventually lead to tooth loss or more serious issues if not treated. To help avoid them, see your Holland dentist at least twice a year for regular dental check ups and cleanings.
If you’re concerned about any dental issues at any age, we encourage you to call my Holland dental office to schedule an appointment. We’ll discuss your concerns and determine the best treatment options to help you keep your teeth for a long time.
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