A daily brushing and flossing routine is essential to good oral health. Plaque can build up fast on the teeth of seniors, and lead to tooth decay and gum disease, especially if oral hygiene is neglected.
If you’re a senior that has a scheduled check up, your dentist should conduct a thorough history, and dental exam. Topics discussed during a dental history might include:
- If you have noticed sensitivity or looseness in your teeth
- Any recent changes in your mouth worth noting
- If you are having any difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
- The date of your last dental visit and reason for it
- If you have lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth
Your dentist will likely check the following during an oral examination: your face and neck, your bite, your jaw, your lymph nodes and salivary glands, your inner cheeks, your tongue and your teeth.
If you wear dentures your dentist will ask a few questions about those as well (when you take them out etc). They will also examine the denture or appliance itself and look for any irritation or problems in the areas in the mouth.
Advancing age puts many seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems. Our dental care tips for seniors would be to directly ask your dentist about any of the symptoms below (if applicable to your situation).
- Darkened Teeth: Caused, to some extent, by changes in dentin — the bone-like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel — and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages. Also caused by thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker yellower dentin show through.
- Dry Mouth: Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain diseases, and medication side effects. Many medicines cause dry mouth.
- Diminished Taste: While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases, medications, and dentures can also contribute to this sensory loss.
- Root Decay: This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.
- Gum Disease: Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes.
- Uneven Jawbone: This is caused by tooth and then not replacing missing teeth. This allows the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into open spaces
- Tooth Loss: Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
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