Senior Dentistry: Embrace Healthy Aging

Someone once said, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” How true!

It can be disorienting and frustrating to watch your health change with age, but you don’t have to accept poor oral health and tooth loss as just a part of the game. On the contrary, your oral health is just as important now as ever, and it’s linked closely with your overall health and wellness.

Embrace healthy, preventative dental hygiene and reap the benefits of improved wellness and vitality during a season of life with so much to look forward to.

When it comes to senior health and dentistry, Dr. Priscilla Shih shares the top concerns you may have, and how to address them:

Gum Disease

A shocking 70% of adults over 65-years-old have gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among seniors.

Gum disease is an epidemic of inflammation. It’s your body’s way of trying to kill germs infecting the gum tissues. Chronic exposure to inflammation in the body actually quadruples your chance of developing Alzheimer’s later in life, according to the American Dental Association.

Tooth Loss & Replacement

After your baby teeth, you only get one more set of teeth to last the rest of your adult years. You don’t want to lose them! And you don’t have to. Preventing gum disease and oral cancer will greatly improve your chances of keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible, hopefully for life.

However, even with diligent oral care, tooth loss is still very common and is nothing to be ashamed of. Your options for replacing teeth have improved greatly with modern advances in restorative dentistry. Depending on your individual case, bridges, dentures, or dental implants may be able to restore your smile back to its full, healthy condition.

Despite the stigmas of the past, you can easily eat, speak, and enjoy life with modern tooth replacement options. They still need to be cleaned and cared for the same as your natural teeth, and your dentist can help you make the adjustment to caring for them properly.

If a full life has aged your smile, you may also be interested in veneers, which instantly and easily give you a youthful smile again.

Oral Cancer

People over 40-years-old have a much higher risk of developing oral cancer. Seeing the dentist twice a year and receiving regular oral cancer screenings is very helpful for detecting early signs for your best chance at survival and recovery. Prevent oral cancer by quitting (or never starting) tobacco and alcohol. These substances are not healthy for the cells in your mouth, or the rest of your body for that matter.

Dry mouth

Diabetes and some daily medications can cause dry mouth (xerostomia). Saliva is very important for keeping your mouth healthy and functioning. Dry mouth is common and can lead to increased tooth decay. Talk to your West Salem dentist if your mouth feels drier than it should, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Complications

Poor oral health can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and some older adults struggle with caring for their oral health with everyday hygiene like brushing and flossing. Your dentist cares about every aspect of your health and can help you come up with a plan to improve your overall health and wellness. Be sure to share all of your health concerns anytime you see the dentist.

The Dentist Still Wants to See You!

No matter your age (“Kids from 1 to 92…”), you must:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss once a day
  • Visit the dentist twice a year
  • Eat a healthy diet and make sugary snacks a rare treat
  • Avoid problematic substances like coffee, tea, alcohol, and nicotine

If you are concerned about financing, many states have senior benefits that cover dental care if you can’t afford it. So there is no reason not to prioritize your dental hygiene and oral healthcare needs. Your oral health can positively (or negatively) impact your overall health. It can also reflect problems going on elsewhere in your body. Make the system work for you by caring for your teeth, gums, and mouth. In turn, your body will do you the favor by staying strong and able.

Call us today for an appointment at Waterloo Heights Dental Center in West Salem for the best, most comprehensive dental care so you can enjoy the golden years with a healthy smile!

Sources

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-age-55-up

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/news/20051111/9-risk-factors-for-tooth-loss

As a general dentist with a special interest in cosmetic dentistry and implant restoration, I believe that a beautiful, healthy smile is a person’s greatest asset. I emphasize the need to establish good communication between the doctor and patient to achieve this goal. With a strong commitment to continuing education, I believes that it is important to stay abreast of the latest, cutting edge techniques and procedures in the area of cosmetic dentistry. I attended UCLA as an undergraduate and continued my education at the Northwestern University School of Dentistry, where I earned my Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree in 1977. I completed the Noblepharma Implant Mini-residency and hold Waterlase and Invisalign Advanced Certification. I am a member of the American Dental Association, The Wisconsin Dental Association, the Chicago Dental Society, the American Association of Women Dentists, and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentists. A resident of the Stoughton area since 2008, I am active in my church and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. I enjoy gourmet cooking, reading, gardening and traveling in my spare time. I am married with three grown children, all of whom currently live in Chicago.

Posted in Dental Health, Patient Care

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