We like to see all our patients on a regular basis, regardless of age, but it is worth being aware of the fact that dental care needs can change as we age. Older people may be at risk of an increased number of oral health problems. These can include:
- Dry mouth which is a condition that results from reduced saliva flow. It’s something that can result from treatments for cancer, and it’s a common side effect from numerous medications. It can also be due to certain diseases such as diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Gum disease is a risk at any age, but this can increase in older people due to certain factors. It can be caused by poor fitting dental appliances such as dentures or bridges, and can be made worse by having a poor diet. People with certain diseases including cancer, anaemia and diabetes are more at risk.
- Root decay can occur as the gums recede and are exposed to the acids in the mouth. Gum recession often results due to gum disease, or thorugh overenthusiastic tooth brushing.
- Tooth loss can be more frequent in older people due to the increased risk of gum disease, root decay and dry mouth.
- Thrush can occur due to an impaired immune system which can trigger an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans that causes thrush.
- Darker teeth are just a natural part of aging, and are caused by the enamel layer on the teeth becoming thinner, exposing more of the dentine underneath. The dentine contains the natural colour of the tooth. Teeth can also become darker simply due to a lifetime of consuming tea, coffee and red wine and other darker coloured foods such as curries.
Great oral hygiene is important at any age, but especially in older people. If any of the above factors do apply to you then these are things you can discuss with Dr David Brown or another of our dentists Leeds at our Leeds surgery as there may be various things we can do to help.
For instance the symptoms of dry mouth may be able to be alleviated through using saliva substitutes, but there are several other things you can try as well including drinking more water, and sucking on boiled sweets or using sugar-free gum to help stimulate the flow of saliva. If it’s being caused by a certain medication then you may want to make an appointment to visit your GP in Leeds to see if there’s a different medication you might be able to try. However we do want to stress that you should never stop taking prescription medications without first consulting your doctor.
Even though gum disease may be more of a risk in older people, it doesn’t necessarily have to become a reality. Twice-daily brushing and flossing once a day combined with regular visits to Leeds City Dentalcare for check-ups and cleanings will help keep your gums in the best possible health. If you have any other diseases such as diabetes then we may want to see you more frequently so we can keep a close eye on your oral health as this condition can affect your gums. This risk can be minimised through controlling blood sugar levels as much as possible.
Your dental appointment at Leeds City Dentalcare is an excellent chance to discuss any oral health concerns you may have with our dental team. In addition to examining your teeth and gums, our dentists will also give you a thorough oral examination and will check all the soft tissues in your mouth. If you wear dentures or any other kind of dental appliance then these will be checked during the appointment, as we need to make sure they still function properly and that they don’t rub or cause any sore spots in your mouth.