Several studies have already proved the link between oral health and the rest of the body. Maintaining dental health becomes more challenging in the old age. Bridgework, old-fillings develop cracks, and even brushing teeth with the wrong toothbrush results in damaged tooth enamel. Individuals who spent a fortune on maintaining their oral health may end up looking at their teeth slowly falling apart. Here’re symptoms and solutions for six of the most reported elderly dental problems.
#1 Cavities developed as a side-effect of medication
Data for various studies conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics highlights that around 20 per cent of the US’s population belonging to the age group 65+ suffers a lot due to untreated cavities.
At times, older adults with good oral health often notice their teeth developing cavities. An individual enters cavity prone years after crossing 60, and dry mouth can cause a lot of damage during these years. Unfortunately, this oral health condition can be triggered due to some of the most commonly prescribed medicines for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, anxiety, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, allergies, or asthma. Several studies have confirmed this link between medicines and oral health.
Fortunately, dentists can offer solutions to prevent cavities by controlling dry mouth symptoms. If the allergy-causing medication cannot be replaced with a substitute, experts often recommend the use of mouthwash or any of the oral moisturizer sprays. For ensuring constant lubrication in the mouth, increasing the water intake also remains crucial.
Chewing sugar-free gum can help in increasing saliva production. If necessary, the dentist may recommend the use of varnish or fluoride gel for controlling cavities. The patient must avoid the consumption of acidic fruit juices, carbonated soft drinks, coffee, alcohol, and other food items that can irritate the dry mouth.
#2 Tooth discoloration
That gleaming white smile can vanish within a year as a result of teeth discoloration. Due to aging, the tooth’s enamel surface starts eroding, and this procedure exposes the dark dentin layer that lies beneath the enamel. Teeth start appearing yellow or gray due to the enamel layer loss. Besides aging, several other factors damage the enamel. The side-effect of antibiotics also happens to be one of the reasons.
Tooth darkening can also be caused due to cosmetic reasons. When it comes to factors that cause tartar buildup and staining on enamel, the use of tobacco products and cigarette smoking leads the list. Last but not least, fruit juices, colored beverages, and even tea, coffee can darken the tooth.
Dental care professionals offer composite tooth bonding and whitening treatments to handle yellowish stains (cosmetic concerns). On the other hand, patients with damaged enamel may require porcelain veneers or other treatment options.
#3 Oral cancer
American Cancer Society’s study pointed out that every year, the US registers 35,000 cases of tongue, throat, and other mouth cancers. The average age of patients in such cases is 62. Put simply; older patients are more prone to oral cancer. Another crucial point highlighted by oral care specialists is that most of the oral cancer patients also happen to be tobacco users.
Tongue and lower lip cancer tumors are common types of oral cavity cancer. Early stages of the disease do not involve any pain. Thus, unfortunately, the initial symptoms of this cancer are often ignored. If the patient notices red or white patches on lip, tongue, or any part of the mouth for more than two weeks, he or she should immediately opt for an oral health checkup. Early diagnosis can increase the chances of treatment’s success. So, dentists suggest that oral health problems in the elderly should not be ignored.
#4 Gum inflammation caused due to other medical conditions
Due to the aging factor, patients suffering from medical conditions like respiratory problems, heart diseases, diabetes, etc. may experience the adverse effects of these issues on their oral health. It also works vice-versa; the bacteria present in the infected gums can reach other parts of the body via bloodstream resulting in inflammation in those organs.
Studies conducted on diabetes patients indicated that uncontrolled blood sugar could cause damage to the blood vessels connected with gums. It makes them vulnerable to infections, and triggers periodontal disease. Higher blood sugar also makes oral fluids sugary, resulting in the multiplication of bacteria. For such patients, dentists focus on controlling gum disease.
#5 Root caries
Often referred to as root decay or caries, the condition occurs when gums recede and expose the tooth root surface to acids that cause decay. As roots do not have enamel-like protection, plaque and tartar can damage them within a lesser time compared to other areas of the tooth.
After crossing the 55th year of age, the person becomes more prone to gum recession and root decay. Cleaning teeth and gums for removing debris and plaque remains crucial. In the case of exposed root surfaces, the patient must visit a dental clinic and let the experts clean the gum line as well as remove tartar from root surfaces with professional cleaning techniques.
#6 Thrush yeast infection
Candida fungus growth causes thrush infection in the mouth. In normal conditions, the fungus growth remains under control due to the immune system and good bacteria present in the mouth. However, in patients with a weaker immune system, the good bacteria die quickly, resulting in the fungus growth.
Young babies, as well as older adults, can suffer from this infection. It is common in patients who have AIDS, as well as in individuals under chemotherapy treatment. Even inhalers and steroid medications prescribed to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma can cause thrush. Some antibiotics kill healthy bacteria. People with high blood sugar are more vulnerable to candida due to the high sugar content in saliva.
Individuals who use dentures need to remain careful as the fungus can get accumulated on various parts of dentures as well. Most importantly, the yeast infection can also spread in other parts of the body.
Doctors, dentists can diagnose the infection after examining the bumps that occur in the mouth. Some of the commonly prescribed medicines for this oral condition are AmBisome, Sporanox, Nystop, Mycelex Troche, and Diflucan.
Are you searching for a geriatric dentistry expert in Roswell (GA) to treat denture problems in the elderly? You should consider fixing an appointment at TruCare Dentistry.