Oral health is important in all stages of life. As you age, you may face unique oral health challenges that don't affect younger patients as frequently. Below is some information about the oral health issues elderly patients are most likely to encounter, as well as the available treatments.
Common Oral Health Problems in Senior Citizens
According to the CDC, some of the most common oral health problems experienced by older adults include:
- Tooth Loss: Older adults are more likely to have lost teeth, which causes problems with biting, chewing and speech. When someone loses teeth, bone tissue can also begin to deteriorate. Because lost teeth lead to so many different complications, treatment is highly recommended. Elderly patients who have lost one or more teeth may benefit from bridges, dentures and/or dental implants.
- Untreated Tooth Decay: A significant number of older patients have untreated tooth decay. Decayed teeth are more likely to crack and break. They may also cause pain and sensitivity. If tooth decay is left untreated for a long time, the decay will continue to progress, and the patient will eventually need root canal therapy or an extraction.
- Oral Cancer: Older adults are more likely to develop oral cancer, which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Gum Disease: As you age, gingivitis and more severe forms of gum disease become more common. In fact, the CDC reports that more than two-thirds of adults over the age of 65 have gum disease. Without treatment, gum disease will continue to get worse, leading to tooth loss, bone loss and other complications.
Many of the issues older adults face as they age are preventable. In order to prevent these problems, it is important to be proactive about your oral health. One of the best ways to prevent the common oral health issues that tend to develop with age is to schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups at least once every six months. During these appointments, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned, and your dentist will look for signs of any issues that may need treatment, such as gum disease or tooth decay. In most cases, you will also undergo an oral cancer screening.
- Tooth Extraction
- Bone Grafting
- Dental Implants
Many senior citizens worry that they may not qualify for oral surgery, due to things like their age, health conditions or previous extensive dental work. More often than not, this worry is unwarranted. The surgeons at Northwest Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery have undergone years of extensive training in medicine and anesthesia in order to provide patients with complex medical concerns the safest possible oral surgical care. The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for oral surgery is to have a consultation with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.