Keeping your older adult’s teeth and mouth healthy can be challenging because aging and health condition can make them more vulnerable to dental problems. Wisdom may come with age, but so does a multitude of problems associated with aging teeth and gums.
A lifetime of chewing, grinding, gnashing, and general wear and tear combined with medications, medical conditions, and a potential reduction in dental care can reason many oral health problems in older adults. These issues may result in significant tooth pain, inflamed gums, bleeding gums, or gum infection.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a common problem caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar. Smoking can also play a significant role. Symptoms in the later stages of gum disease include irritated, red, and bleeding gums.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums due to bacteria build-up where teeth meet gum tissue. This can develop into periodontitis, a serious gum infection that damages the gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth.
Tooth decay can lead to cavities, which can reason pain, infection, and even tooth loss. It is often caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar. A diet with sugary foods, a tendency to snack between meals, and a reduction in saliva production all contribute to the build-up of sugar and acid in the mouth.
The medical situations can play a major role too. For example, tooth brushing can be hard and painful for those with arthritis and can appear as a near-impossible task for those who have dementia.
Gum recession is a gradual process where gums shrink away from teeth. It is commonly caused by gum diseases and poor dental hygiene, although smoking; family history and teeth grinding (known as bruxism) are also possible contributing factors.
Teeth may become sensitive as the root of the tooth becomes exposed and teeth may appear to lengthen. Untreated, this situation can result in significant damage to oral tissues, an enlarged likelihood of developing gum disease, and tooth loss.
Many people experience reduce saliva production with age, a common syndrome known as dry mouth, or xerostomia. It is also a known side effect of many medications. The problem with reduced saliva production is that sugar and acids build up more readily in the mouth, resulting in an increased chance of cavities and leads to some of the problems mentioned above. It can also result in dry, cracked lips and a swollen tongue, making it difficult to speak and swallow.