Quality of life is the key to staying on top of your game once you’re over the hill… and a few miles down the path.
Oral health plays a big role in overall health, and overall health contributes to good quality of life. So, taking care of your mouth is important. The dentist can help keep your smile pearly white, super clean, and functioning comfortably, so you can retain your natural teeth long into your golden years, if not forever. (A dentist can even help with sleep disorders, chronic headaches, and TMJ pain!)
People over 50 should watch out for these common oral health hiccups:
Bruxism – Teeth Grinding
- One study shows that 8% of adults suffer from bruxism
- Estimates show that 3.6 million oral splints are produced annually
People who are stressed are more likely to grind their teeth. Improperly aligned jaw joints (TMJ disorder) can also contribute to this destructive habit. In many situations, “bruxers” don’t know they grind their teeth. A husband or wife usually notices the problem while the bruxer is sleeping. The dentist can look at your teeth and determine if they’re worn and damaged from bruxing. Wear a custom-made nightguard, you’ll grind no more. Learn more about bruxism at the AGD’s Know Your Teeth website for dental patients.
Tooth Decay – Cavities – Dental Caries
- Between 29% and 59% of adults over the age of 50 experience caries
- 90% of adults have experienced dental caries
While a cavity can develop on any tooth, any time, for grownups, cavities tend to show up near former cavities, where dental work begins to deteriorate. Without treatment, tooth decay can lead to internal infection or tooth loss. You’ve heard it your entire life, but maybe your memory ain’t quite what she used to be: Brush twice a day, floss once a day, visit your dentist and hygienist twice a year, and promptly follow through with restorative treatment. Read what the ADA has to say to patients regarding dental caries prevention.
- While the statistics for Gum Disease are staggering, Dr. Clark has seen wonderful progress and healing through LANAP or Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. Click here for a brief description of this breakthrough technology.
- Approx. 30,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with oral cancer
- Approx. 8000 Americans die each year from oral cancer
- Oral cancer rates increase after 50 years of age and peaking between 60 and 70
Risk factors for oral cancer include using tobacco and drinking alcohol, but anyone can develop the condition. As with many health concerns, older patients are more prone to the disease – particularly current or former smokers. Fortunately, early detection at dental checkups can allow for early intervention, which could literally save your life. Modern dental technology has given us ViziLite, VELscope, and Identafi, systems that allow us to see potentially cancerous cells before they reach the surface of the mouth and cause visible lesions. Visit the Oral Cancer Foundation online for more info.
Dry Mouth – Xerostemia
- Normal saliva production is 4-6 cups a day for an adult
- Dry mouth can contribute to oral pain, bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay
Truth is, with every birthday, you produce less saliva. Maybe it’s the increasing number of candles you have to extinguish each year. Just kidding. Declining saliva flow is a normal part of aging. Some medications also reduce saliva production, as do radiation treatment and diabetes. While spit may seem gross, it’s nature’s industrial oral cleanser. Without sufficient saliva, your mouth will feel like a desert. You’ll also be more prone to gum disease and cavities because bacteria aren’t washed out of your mouth with your spit. If you have “cottonmouth,” stop sucking on mints and talk with the dentist or your physician.
After reviewing all of that it's easy to concur that life is not sweeter with age, but we want our patients to know that their oral health can be great if they stay up to date on their dental exams and cleanings. By keeping these regular appointments we are able to detect and prevent many issues before they get out of control or cause permanent damage.
If it has been a while since you have seen Dr. Clark, please call us today. If you would like to refer us to a friend or family member, we would be honored to help them however we can. Together we can make a difference!
Call today to schedule your appointment!
(541) 451- 1440