As you get older, it becomes even more important to pay close attention to your dental health. There are a number of dental health conditions that become more prevalent as you approach retirement age, and if you're on the lookout for them, you have a greater chance of catching and treating them early.
Dry mouth is not something you should ignore, since a dry mouth is more inhabitable to the bacteria that cause gum disease and gingivitis. There are a number of reasons why dry mouth becomes more common in old age. Sometimes, it is an effect of other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, which become more common as people age. Other times, it is a side effect of medications used to treat pain, asthma, Parkinson's disease and other conditions.
If your mouth is feeling dry, mention it to a dentist, like the ones at Pine Lake Dental Group. He or she can prescribe an oral rinse or a special toothpaste to help increase saliva production.
Gum diseases, which is caused by oral bacteria, causes symptoms such as swollen gums and bleeding when you brush your teeth. If not treated, it can progress to the point that it causes your teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. Gum disease is more common in older adults, so you should watch out for the symptoms closely. If you notice some pink in the sink or sore gums, start using an antiseptic mouthwash daily. If this does not cause your symptoms to disappear within a few weeks, talk to your dentist. He or she can prescribe an antibiotic cream or deep-clean your teeth and gums to help fight the condition more aggressively.
After your teeth have spent 50 or more years in your mouth, the enamel – the outer layer of your teeth – is not as strong as it once was. This makes it easier for bacteria to work their way through the enamel and cause cavities. When cavities are small, they usually don't cause any symptoms. Thus, it is important to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups so that these cavities can be caught and filled early before they threaten the health of your tooth. If you have symptoms of a more severe cavity, which include pain in the tooth and the appearance of a black "spot" on the tooth, visit your dentist immediately.
It is possible for older adults to keep their teeth healthy, but you have to be vigilant. Don't ignore symptoms of any of the conditions above; without treatment, they'll just get worse.