As we get older, our health tends to change and our needs may shift over time. Our oral health is no different. For Senior Citizens Day on August 21st, our dental office in Mill Creek wants to cater to our favorite seniors and their families by talking a bit about some of the most common oral health problems that seniors encounter, as well as some common misconceptions.
It’s a common belief that losing our teeth is an unavoidable part of life. But that’s just not true. At least not always. Many people can keep their natural teeth for a lifetime, especially those who brush and floss properly and visit their dentist in Mill Creek regularly. These visits are always important, but perhaps even more for seniors. They allow your dental team to keep an eye on your oral health and identify any potential problems early, often when they’re still easily treated and before tooth loss is even a factor.
However, some things can increase the chance of losing a tooth or teeth, such as smoking, improper oral hygiene, and gum disease. If any of these things do require you to have a tooth extracted, or cause one to come out, there are many tooth replacement options available that can restore your smile such as dentures, a dental bridge, or dental implants.
If you happen to lose a tooth and are considering a tooth replacement option, your dentist in Mill Creek will be able to help identify which options are appropriate for you. What we want to make sure to highlight here is that replacing a tooth or teeth is the best thing you can do for your smile and your overall health. Why? First, missing teeth makes it difficult to eat many foods and to fuel your body with proper nutrients. Second, when a tooth goes missing and is not replaced, it can affect the rest of the teeth in your mouth by causing them to shift or become crooked. Your bone density can also diminish; your jaw can start to hurt due to a shift in your bite, and your gums can recede– putting you at a greater risk for gum disease.
While anyone can get gum disease, seniors can be at greater risk than most. This can be caused by a variety of factors such as the decreased ability to properly brush or floss, medications causing dry mouth, or gum recession. Gum disease is a serious problem that not only put us at risk for tooth loss but can also negatively affect the rest of the body. In fact, research has suggested a link between gum disease and heart disease, as well as an increased risk for stroke. What’s more, is that a study conducted by Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy showed a potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. The study found that people over the age of 50 who have had gum disease for ten or more years were 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s than those without any gum disease or inflammation.
Even though our needs may change as we get older, there are a few facts that will always be constant when it comes to your oral health — always brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, don’t smoke or use tobacco, and see your dentist in Mill Creek at least twice a year.
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