People between the ages of 20 and 34 in the United States have a mean number of 26.9 permanent teeth with which to work. For a variety of reasons, this mean number drops to 19.34 among people between the ages of 65 and 74. Our goal in presenting these numbers is to emphasize the importance of vigilant dental care as you get older as your teeth and gums face more challenges.
At Grace Dental Group, Drs. Woo Young Lee and Sean Kim lead a qualified team of dental experts who specialize in family dentistry. Our goal is to help patients of all ages preserve their dental health and we believe that education plays a key role in that effort.
With that in mind, in the following we take a closer look at some of the more common dental problems people face as they grow older.
A second round of tooth decay
Many seniors are surprised to find themselves sitting in our chair to have cavities filled again after many years without any evidence of tooth decay. There are several reasons why many seniors face a second round of dental caries and problems like dry mouth are among the most common.
To protect your mouth and flush away bacteria and debris, your mouth relies on saliva. As you age, however, you produce less saliva. Compounding matters are any medications you may be taking that lead to dry mouth — and there are more than 500 medications that list dry mouth as a side effect.
Without adequate saliva, harmful bacteria can once again set up shop in your teeth and lead to decay.
If your mouth feels dryer than normal, we recommend that you come see us so that we can check for any developing tooth decay. If we find any cavities, we can quickly provide you with a filling before the damage is too great. At the same time, we’ll work with you on a dry mouth treatment plan to avoid further decay.
High incidence of gum disease
The CDC reports that a whopping two out of three people over the age of 65 have some degree of gum disease, which is the leading driver of tooth loss. There are several factors that contribute to these higher numbers, including loss of dental benefits and comorbidities that lead to declining oral health (diabetes, for example).
Another reason why the incidence of gum disease is higher in seniors is that the problem may have been brewing for years and only becomes more evident as you get older. There are three stages to gum disease:
- Advanced periodontitis
In the earlier stages, you may be unaware of the problem as it only causes inflammation in your gums. As periodontitis progresses, however, it begins to destroy the connective tissues in your gums causing your teeth to loosen. Left unchecked, gum disease leads to the loss of your teeth and it’s worth pointing out that one in five people over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth.
To prevent tooth loss, we offer comprehensive periodontal services to help you during every stage of gum disease with the goal of preserving your teeth.
The bottom line is that there’s no reason why you can’t maintain great dental health as you age if you keep up with your dental care. To get the right team in your corner, contact our office San Francisco, California, to set up an appointment.