Oral Changes in The Older Patient
Growing older signals a myriad of changes in your body that one can naturally expect. Many of us observe our thinning hair, fine lines appearing everywhere, not being able to see or read well without glasses, joints becoming stiff, a little memory loss here and there. Your mouth and all its structures undergo simultaneous changes as well, and knowing them should prepare you to better manage oral issues through the years.
While the teeth are some of the strongest structures in the body, they, too, undergo ageing. With constant chewing, biting, gnawing, they will inevitably show signs of wear and tear. Teeth grinding surfaces will smoothen out, flattening with time. The hard outer layer of enamel will thin, and perhaps from time to time you will experience tooth sensitivity. Thinning enamel can make you prone to tooth chipping or breakage, so it is advisable to be conscious when biting on hard foods. Teeth often become darker with age, also due to the loss of enamel.
Teeth, however, become generally less sensitive with age. Nerves found in the root and the gums seem to have more pain tolerance. Might be a good thing, but the situation can lead to cavities forming and other dental issues that can be far gone before detection and more difficult to treat. This makes dental visits more important for them. They may also manifest increased sensitivity to drugs used in dentistry, including local anesthetics and analgesics. Nonetheless, expert dental care can handle these situations.
Gum Health is Important too
The same is true with an older person’s gum health. A mild gingivitis can easily lead to its more severe form – periodontitis – if not treated early. It is more common for older people to have bad breath, bleeding and receding gums, and tooth lost as aftermath of severe gum disease.
Dry mouth is another common symptom of ageing. Mouths often get drier beyond middle age, so drinking plenty of water is helpful to avoid caries and mouth infections. Multiple medications, highly common in the elderly, can cause dry mouth, a side-effect of many drugs. While these are essential for treatment of medical conditions, the older patient must be mindful of keeping the mouth properly hydrated.
Diabetes, hypertension, depression, among others, are common among older folks and have a direct impact on oral health. While good oral hygiene is key, a tandem of doctor and dentist can very well co-manage the patient enjoying a better quality of life while gracefully aging.
Caring for Patients of All Ages in Downtown Seattle
Our team at Smile Art in Seattle understand the oral changes going on in our patients advancing in years. While we provide the same quality of care for all, there are special populations with individualized needs.