Like with most health related issues, the chances of certain conditions developing become increasingly more likely the older you get.
From a young age, we’re told that we should go to the dentist every six months for a check-up and teeth cleaning. For the sake of your health, this is a good practice and one that everyone should stick to. Preventative care is the best way to ensure that you stay healthy for longer. After all, when it comes to your oral health, problems tend to develop gradually. It’s early intervention that helps you avoid the more costly procedures down the line that one usually associates with dental work.
While sticking to your routine of regular dental check-ups is important throughout the course of your life, it becomes even more critical as you get older. That’s because, like with most health related issues, the chances of certain conditions developing become increasingly more likely the older you get. Much like how you are encouraged to get a colonoscopy done after you reach 40 and regularly get your cholesterol checked because of higher incidences of colon cancer and heart attacks, things can begin to change regarding your dental health that makes you more susceptible to illnesses. Maintaining good self-care practices can help, of course, but that doesn’t replace the critical functions that a dentist performs. Things like checking for oral cancer can only be done by a dentist. As an extreme example, our ancestors had significantly shorter lifespans for many reasons. One reason being the lack of proper dental care or hygiene. In the modern world, it’s very rare for anyone to die due to missing teeth and gum disease, but the risk of developing these conditions in old age still exist.
Why do you need to take your oral health even more seriously and schedule regular teeth cleanings as you get older? Here are a few of the reasons why you should increase your vigilance regarding your dental care once you pass middle age.
While gingivitis and periodontitis can occur at any age (though it’s not quite as prevalent in children) it greatly effects the older population. While the overall rate of periodontal disease has diminished over the past several decades, it’s still common enough in people over the age of 65 that it’s important that you get checked for it. Over 17% of those over 65 have some form of periodontal disease with 11% having moderate to severe cases of it.
Why is this the case?
Many people develop some level of gingivitis throughout their lives. It’s often mild and is successfully treated by taking the proper care of your teeth (brushing twice a day, floss, mouthwash) and seeing your dentist for a regular teeth cleaning. However, if you skip your cleanings, gum disease can quietly advance because it is painless until it reaches the late stages. By the time you seek treatment, your gumline may have already eroded and even your jawbone could be affected. Don’t count on pain tipping you off to your gum disease. Only a dentist can identify it.
Oral cancer is another mostly silent threat that won’t alert you to its presence with pain until it has reached advanced stages. You’re probably sensing a pattern by this point when it comes to diseases of the mouth. The pain, which would prompt you to see the dentist, doesn’t appear until it becomes much more difficult to treat the disease. Oral cancer is difficult to recognize. It can present as white or red patches, sore spots in the mouth that don’t heal after several weeks, abnormal pain in the ear or jaw, difficulty swallowing, and other vague symptoms that could be caused by benign conditions. Part of the reason you need a regular teeth cleaning is to check for signs like this so the cancer can be caught early enough to successfully treat.
We might associate cavities more with children who love candy, but older people are quite susceptible to them for different reasons. One of the leading causes of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth, which is not a natural part of aging, can happen for a variety of reasons including medication side effects or other health conditions. Since many of the medications used to treat conditions that typically affect older people cause dry mouth, it’s important to alert your dentist about all of the pills you take. Your dentist may have recommendations for you to combat dry mouth and reduce the chance of cavities developing.
Have you come in for your regular teeth cleaning lately? If not, now is the time to do it. Not only will you have a clean feeling and attractive smile, but you may end up finding out about a condition you weren’t even aware that you had. Remember, health conditions of the mouth rarely present with pain in the early stages. Contact us today. The team at Dental Center of Redondo Beach is here to provide you with the professional dental services you need to stay healthy and smiling.