More seniors reach their 70s and 80s with natural teeth intact, something that was unheard of decades ago. As you plan your active retirement, make sure your teeth can stand up to all of the new things on your plate. It’s possible they have a few battle scars, like old fillings, or a bit of wear and tear. Your teeth have served you well, so make sure you give them a little TLC, so they’re in tip-top shape as long as you need them.
Dental care is even more important as you age
Modern dentistry has better tools and technology than ever before. For example, in the past, many people didn’t have widespread access to fluoridated water, and a higher percentage of people smoked. These factors can raise your risk of tooth decay as you age.
You can’t isolate dental health from your overall well-being. Dentistry doesn’t just treat your mouth; it provides a view of your whole health. Consider your dentist one of several specialists on your medical team who can help keep you healthy. Just as your endocrinologist advises you about diabetes or thyroid disease, your dentist is a mouth specialist.
Dental problems are common as you age, due to side effects from medication, aging fillings, and receding gums. From dry mouth to periodontal disease, these issues become more widespread the older you get. Oral health directly impacts your overall health, so it’s important to address tooth and gum health with the same level of priority as heart or digestive health.
Bone loss from dentures
Although every effort is made to limit bone loss, once you lose all of your natural teeth, it can be hard to stop the process. Natural teeth and implants stimulate the jawbone to grow with every bite you take. But without the bone-strengthening stimulation of chewing, your jaw bone starts to shrink.
Over time, dentures that once fit well will feel loose. Dentures are custom fit to your jaw when they’re made, so if they feel loose, they need to be adjusted to match the changing shape of your gums and supporting jaw bone.
You can use a denture adhesive for a short term fix, but see your dentist to consult about the bone loss causing your jaw bone to shrink away and remodel. Left untreated, this issue can cause nutritional shortcomings because ill-fitting dentures cause people to avoid hard to chew foods.
Replace missing teeth quickly
If you lost a tooth to time and decay, an implant is the only restoration to permanently replace the function of a natural tooth. Implants replace the root and visible portion of an extracted tooth without damaging the adjacent healthy teeth. The replacement keeps the rest of your teeth from shifting into the space next to them and can be used as an anchor to hold other artificial teeth or partial dentures in place.
Like your natural teeth, dental implants need regular dental checkups, but you can plan on them lasting a lifetime. Careful planning and extensive surgical experience are required for the best outcome, like the local dental surgeons at ED USA.
Screenings for other health issues
Visit the dentist regularly for a full oral exam, even if you wear full dentures and don’t have natural teeth. Your dentist performs a cancer screening with every exam. Your doctor will thoroughly screen your mouth, lips, and neck for signs of cancer. The average age of diagnosis for oral cancer is 62, and the highest risk factor is long-term smoking. If you find an ulcer or rough patch anywhere in your mouth, see your dentist to have it evaluated.
Dentists are often the first medical professional to diagnose conditions like diet deficiencies, eating disorders, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. All of these conditions are interrelated with your oral health, so your mouth is frequently the first place to show symptoms. Poor oral hygiene can also contribute to many of the same illnesses and conditions, so it’s critical to see your dentist regularly.
As you age, conditions like dry mouth, aging dental work, tooth loss, and the wear and tear of years can leave your teeth more susceptible to decay. It’s important to take the best care of your teeth so you’ll have them for years, but also because they impact your overall health. If you need a dental procedure, get it done as soon as possible to deter long-term bone loss. Maintaining healthy teeth is far easier than fixing issues afterward.