|Dr. Alan Wishneff D.D.S.
Restorative Dentistry / Oral Health
March 30, 2014
With all the advances in medicine, there has been an increase in prolonged life expectancy. This means the number of older people will continue to increase worldwide. It is extremely important for all older adults to practice and maintain good oral hygiene due to the high correlation between oral health and general health.
Maintaining proper oral health is not only vital to your overall health; it can keep you smiling well into your retirement. You need to make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and a soft bristled brush. Flossing daily is also needed to remove plaque from between the teeth and below the gum line that the brush can’t reach.
More Oral Problems as You Age?
As you age, you may be more likely to develop gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attack the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and bleeding when you brush. If you have these symptoms, see a dentist. Gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease if it is not taken care of. In the worst cases, bacteria form in pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone and causing the gums to recede, pulling back from the teeth. This can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. As you age, changes in salivary flow and content may further lead to gingivitis, as well as cavities. Because approximately 80 percent of all American adults suffer from some form of gingivitis, it’s important to see your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups. If regular oral care is too difficult for you, your dentist can provide alternatives to aid in brushing and flossing.
If arthritis has made it difficult to perform normal dental practices, there are dental products on the market that can help. They are designed to make dental care less painful. Sometimes people with arthritis have suggested securing the toothbrush to a wider object, like a ruler, to ease the arthritic hand pain while brushing. Electric toothbrushes can also help by doing some of the work for you. You dentist will have some suggestions for you if you ask.
Signs of Oral Care
Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers, with roughly 35,000 new cases reported annually in the United States. Oral cancer most often occurs in people who are older than age 40. Oral cancer can form in any part of the mouth or throat. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery, and even death. Oral cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates of all cancers; this is primarily due to late diagnosis. See a dentist immediately if you notice any of the following: red or white patches on your gums or tongue, a sore that fails to heal within two weeks, bleeding in your mouth, loose teeth, problems or pain swallowing, or a lump in your neck. Your dentist should perform a head and neck exam to screen for oral cancer during routine checkups.
Dry mouth becomes more common as you get older. Dry mouth (xerostomia) occurs when salivary glands fail to work due to disease, certain medications, or cancer treatment. This condition makes it harder to eat, swallow, taste and speak. Drinking lots of water and avoiding sweets, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine can help fix dry mouth. Your dentist can also prescribe medications to ease the symptoms of severe dry mouth.
Maintaining Good Oral Health
Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy mouth may keep your body healthier and help you to avoid diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Older patients who are planning to enter a nursing home should inquire about on-site dental care. People who do not have teeth still need to visit the dentist regularly, since many aspects of oral health, such as adjusting dentures and oral cancer screenings, can be handled during routine dental visits. The best way to achieve good oral health is to visit your dentist at least twice a year.
For more information about this topic or any other dental topic, contact Dr.Wishneff at [email protected] or call (561) 488-3111. Dr. Alan Wishneff is a Boca Raton Dentist dedicated to bringing patients state-of-the-art dental care. As a cosmetic, family and restorative dentist, he helps patients enjoy a natural and healthy smile. He is trained in cosmetic dentistry, including porcelain veneers; advanced cosmetic bonding techniques; oral surgery; medical emergency procedures; advanced crown and bridge; advanced TMJ; implant dentistry; endodontics-root canals: utilization of most advanced dental materials. Dr, Wishneff and staff are dedicated to providing great smiles in Boca Raton for more than 30 years. After more than two decades of practicing dentistry in Boca Raton, Dr. Wishneff is more committed than ever to this community.