Take Special Care of your Teeth as you Age

by Dr. Anson Hooper, DDS, Hooper Family Dental

Age is a funny thing. My oldest daughter turned 9 last month and my wife and I had a brief conversation about her being half way to turning 18 and graduating from high school. It made us both sad and we quickly changed the conversation. When I look at my family, from my mom and dad to my daughters, we all age quickly it seems. While some age more gracefully than others, the fact is, eventually age will catch up to all of us.

According to the most recent census, nearly half the population of the Prescott/Prescott Valley are over the age of 60. According to the CDC, nearly all adults (96%) aged 65 years or older have had a cavity and 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay.

The CDC also indicate that being disabled, homebound or institutionalized (e.g., seniors who live in nursing homes) increases the risk of poor oral health.

The following are a few common conditions that plague the aging population:

  • Dry mouth
  • Tooth and root decay
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Denture-induced stomatitis
  • Darkened teeth

While age in and of itself is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health, arthritis and other medical conditions can make regular oral hygiene difficult to impossible to perform. Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment and hygiene necessary.

As we age and dexterity decreases, supplementing your daily routine with an antiseptic mouth rinse can be a big help, according to the American Dental Association. These rinses can combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Daily brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to maintaining good oral health.

Plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of seniors, especially if oral hygiene is neglected and can subsequently lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Stay well hydrated to help with dry mouth.

As always, a visit with your dentist on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam can help with a custom plan for you and your loved ones.