Taking good care of your teeth and gums is essential at every age. However, it’s even more crucial as you grow older. That’s because the body goes through natural changes as it ages, and they don’t stop at your mouth.
Dr. Lana Rozenberg and her team at Union Square Dental work with patients of all ages in the Flatiron District of New York City. They understand that each stage of life comes with unique needs, whether it’s a child visiting for the first time or a seasoned adult coming in for an annual cleaning.
It’s never too early to start taking steps that preserve your oral health well into your later years.
Age and oral health
If you’ve spent your whole life practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental visits, it’s easy to assume you’ve covered your bases. However, your risk for dental health issues increases the older you get.
Natural age-related physical changes that impact your mouth include:
- Cells renew at slower rates
- Tissues grow thin and less elastic
- Thin and weak bones
The immune system also grows weaker, making you more susceptible to infections that can occur more quickly and take longer to heal.
On top of these changes, your chances of having other health conditions or needing medication also increase with age.
As a result, several oral health conditions become far more common in older adults, even if they never had issues in the past.
Oral health issues that increase with age
One issue Dr. Rozenberg and her team frequently see at Union Square Dental involves dry mouth. This may not seem like cause for concern, but saliva protects your oral health.
When you don’t produce enough saliva, it increases your chances of several issues, such as:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Thrush (an oral yeast infection)
- Difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
Dr. Rozenberg and her team also encounter gum disease, recession, and cavities — even teeth with fillings are at risk. These issues increase your chances of tooth loss; nearly 1 in 5 people 65 or older have no natural teeth remaining.
But you’re not safe if you have dentures, either. The bacteria that stick to natural teeth also adhere to artificial ones, putting the rest of your mouth and body at risk. In fact, research shows a direct link between poor oral health and other chronic conditions, ranging from heart disease and diabetes to arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Finally, oral cancers are more common in people over 45.
These issues can develop for many reasons, but they all add up to serious problems, so prevention is the best course of action.
Protecting your oral health as you age
Fortunately, you can protect your mouth at any age. It all starts with good oral hygiene habits, such as:
- Brushing twice daily
- Only using a brush with soft bristles a fluoride toothpaste
- Getting regular dental cleanings and check-ups
- Not smoking or using tobacco products
- Avoiding sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages
Dr. Rozenberg and her team also recommend scheduling an appointment if you notice changes in your mouth, like pain, sores, discolored patches, red or swollen gums, loose teeth, or chronic bad breath. Similarly, don’t try to ignore dentures that slip or fit improperly.
Last of all, tell Dr. Rozenberg and her team if you take medications or have medical conditions that could impact your oral health, like diabetes. They can make additional suggestions to protect your teeth if necessary, like artificial saliva or more frequent dental exams.
Are you ready to protect your teeth moving forward? Contact Union Square Dental to schedule a consultation by calling 212-675-7877 or booking online today.