Our dental issues transition, as we get older. At our youth, we used to worry about brushing our teeth properly and flossing to avoid cavities just like our dentist and parents warned us if we didn’t. As seniors or elders the problems differ, gums get the spotlight, cavities still are considered a problem but not as severe and issues related to dentures, bridges, and tooth wear down appear.
Physiologically, the gums recede and increase the risk of root decay. In young adults, the risk of cavities is mainly on fissures and points where two teeth touch. In elders, cavity risk is mainly on the roots of teeth that have been exposed because of gum recession. These are terrible lesions for several reasons. Dental roots do not have enamel so they can get cavities and big ones easily. It is important to remember that the dental pulp diminishes, as we get older. This is the part of the tooth that reacts to a lesion signaling pain to the rest of the body. The small pulp won’t react to signal pain unless the lesion is huge. Root cavities weaken the tooth and may be a cause to extract a tooth.
Teeth wear down and darken. To some extent it is caused by changes in the dentin, which is the middle layer of a tooth below the enamel and by a lifetime of consuming stain causing food and beverages. Dental whitening clarifies the dentin; it breaks down intrinsic stains and eliminates them making the teeth look whiter. Dental whitening is a great way to clarify teeth for a younger look, and usually has astounding result on teeth that have been stained by age. Routine cleanings help diminish stains on the enamel, deep and thorough polishing done by the dentist can eliminate stains that the toothbrush can never erase.
Studies indicate that older people tend to have the highest rates of gum disease also called periodontal disease. Over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontitis. Caused by plaque and worsen by food left in teeth, the use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures. Yearly check-ups and cleanings help maintain teeth clean of plaque to avoid their loss. Dr. Telma Rubinstein from Prisma Dental, mentions that periodontitis is the leading issue of tooth loss in elders.
Denture-induced stomatitis is another issue to take into account. Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene or the build-up of the fungus Candida albicans cause this condition. Redness, inflammation and irritation of the gums are the main symptoms and signs of stomatitis. These can be treated with special mouthwashes and anti-inflamatories but the main concern is the cause. This must be resolved to avoid having another stomatitis.