13234 Perkins Road Suite A
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
Ory Sr, Robert D D.D.S.
430 W 5th St
La Place, LA, 70068-3934
Harold W King Physicians Corp
2520 Bert Kouns Loop # 104
Shreveport, LA, 71118-3130
Bailey, Hal E D.D.S.
5213 Rue Verdun
Alexandria, LA, 71303-2349
Gaudet Jr, Steven M D.D.S.
1211 Museum Dr
Houma, LA, 70360-6073
Seniors are the fastest-growing age group in the U.S., in part because medical advances and preventive care are extending life and the quality of it. As the baby boomer generation ages, the senior population is swelling, along with their interest in maintaining healthy bodies and lifestyles. Good dental health is important to overall health and seniors must stay on top of their dental care. It is now possible to keep natural teeth and good dental hygiene plays a vital role.
Talk to your dentist about the proper care of your teeth and dental health. Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly are the most important steps you can take to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If age is causing your gums to recede, clean your teeth thoroughly, but be careful not to irritate or tear the gums. A receding gum line may also expose sensitive portions of teeth; careful brushing is important, as are toothpastes that offer sensitivity protection. If you have difficulty using a toothbrush or floss because arthritis or a stroke has impaired your agility, ask your dentist to recommend commercial products that will make the tasks easier. Bleeding or sensitive gums, constant bad breath, receding gums, and loose teeth are all symptoms of gum disease, which can hasten tooth loss. If you spot these symptoms, talk with your dentist about them before they cause pain and deterioration.
After a lifetime of chewing and biting, many seniors have dentures, bridges, crowns, and, of course, their fair share of fillings. Over time, even the best dental hardware can wear out. If you feel changes in your mouth, particularly when you are eating, brushing, or flossing, bring them to your dentist's attention. You may take medications or have a medical condition that results in dry mouth. Saliva production is important to good dental health: it keeps the mouth moist, washes away food particles, and protects against decay from plaque. Enlist the help of your dentist, and ask about artificial saliva products.
Don't stop caring for your teeth and mouth at this stage of the game! Keeping your teeth healthy means greater comfort and enjoyment as you eat, laugh, and speak. Good preventive care will give you something to really smile about and help to maintain your dental health!
Tooth loss is not part of the normal aging process. In fact, tooth loss is declining among older adults. Aging does not cause oral diseases, yet oral diseases such as tooth loss are more prevalent with age due to changes in the oral soft tissues, a depression of the immune system, an increase in the number of systemic diseases, a decreased ability to perform adequate oral hygiene and self care secondary to stroke, arthritis, Parkinson's disease, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease, and dry mouth due to greater use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
With age, teeth become less white and more brittle; however, oral hygiene habits and use of tobacco, coffee, and tea also will affect tooth color. Teeth also can darken or yellow due to the thickening of the underlying tooth structure (dentin). Brittle teeth tend to be susceptible to cracks, fractures, and shearing. Over the years, the enamel layer (outer tooth layer) is subjected to wear due to chewing, grinding, and ingestion of acidic foods. In severe cases, the enamel is completely worn away and the underlying dentin is worn down as well. Inside the tooth (pulp), the number of blood vessels and cells decrease and fibroses increase with age; thus, capacity to respond to trauma may also decrease.
The fiber content and number of blood vessels of the periodontal (gum) tissues decrease with age. However, periodontal disease represents a pathologic or disease change and is not due to just age. The loss of bone and gum attachment (receded gums) associated with periodontal disease is collective and therefore greater in older adults. An outcome of periodontal disease is exposed root surfaces. Exposure of the root in older people probably gave rise to the term "long in tooth". Oral hygiene practices and certain medications affect the health of gum tissue. Receded gums and exposed root surfaces put older adults at high risk for dental decay (root caries) on the relatively soft root surfaces. Dental caries on root surfaces is a disease that is common among older adults. Dry mouth and a diet high in sugars and fermentable carbohydrates greatly increase the risk for root caries. Dental caries are a major cause of tooth loss in older adults.
Studies show some reduced chewing effectiveness, decreased tongue strength, and increased swallowing time with age; however, the studies do not indicate that there is any real change in the ability to swallow with age.
The number of cells that produce saliva decrease with age. However, healthy, unmedicated older adults do not have reduced saliva flow. This is because the salivary glands have a high reserve capacity. Usually when a decrease in saliva flow is noted, it is associated with medication use, illness, medical conditions, or their treatment. The number of taste buds do not appear to change with older age; thus, the ability to taste does not change significantly with age. However, smell decreases with age. Since the ability to taste is closely related to smell, taste perception may be altered in older adults.
Soft tissues of the mouth become thinner and lose elasticity with age. Soft tissue lesions are more common in older adults and tooth loss may occur. Chronic inflammation such as candidiasis (fungus growth) and denture irritation also occurs more often. Wound healing is decreased due to reduced vascularity (blood flow to the area) and immune response with age.
Oral and oropharyngeal cancer is the most serious disease associated with age. Oral and oropharyngeal cancer lesions usually are not painful. Oral and pharyngeal cancer may appear as a red or white patch, a sore or ulceration, or a lump or bump that does not heal within two weeks. Swollen lymph nodes of the neck, difficulty swallowing and speaking, and voice changes also may be signs and symptoms of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. The risk for oral and oral pharyngeal cancer increases with age, use of all forms of tobacco, frequent alcohol use, and exposure to sunlight (for lip cancer). See a dentist if any signs or symptoms of oral and pharyngeal cancer are present.