Cavity prevention is a valuable exercise for any stage of life, including the golden years. Seniors present some special dental challenges, including an increase in cavities. There are many reasons why senior citizens are at a greater risk of developing cavities.
Medication Effects Dental Health
Senior citizens often present with a laundry list of medications, some of which have the effect of drying up the natural saliva flow in the mouth. A normal saliva flow is Mother Nature’s way of washing the cavity causing bacteria off the teeth. When saliva flow is diminished by medications, the cavity rate increases.
To help treat this symptom, seniors need to make a point of drinking a lot of water throughout the day to keep saliva flowing and bacteria from sticking to the surface of their teeth. Drinking a lot of water, combined with consistent brushing and flossing, can diminish the risk of developing cavities.
Gum Tissue Recession
The second dental concern for seniors is natural recession of the gums. This exposes the root surface of the teeth, which is a softer portion of the tooth due to a lack of enamel covering. The root surface is more difficult to keep clean much more susceptible to cavities. When all these conditions combine, it seems like it is impossible to stay ahead of the cavities.
The recession of gum tissue might also lead to tooth sensitivity, making it more difficult to consistently brush teeth and gums. Fortunately, there are many toothpastes that are specially made for sensitive teeth, along with fluoridated mouth rinses to help keep teeth clean. Dr. McLeod, a dentist in Newberg OR, may also recommend more long-term treatment in addition to good daily dental hygiene.
Importance of Daily Dental Hygiene
This form of tooth decay and accompanying gum disease is caused by the build up of bacteria through the sticky, yellow substance known as plaque. When not brushed and flossed away, this layer of plaque can harden into calculus or tartar, increasing a person’s risk of periodontal disease as well as resulting in cavities. It might seem surprising, but there are several reasons why seniors are especially susceptible to more cavities.
Prevention is the key with seniors. Regular check-ups and dental cleanings with Dr. Jennifer McLeod at Newberg Family Dental can help catch potential problems early. Fluoride toothpastes and electronic toothbrushes knock down the cavity causing plaque. Zylitol mints and silver nitrate applications are a new way of diminishing the population of cavity causing bacteria. All these techniques are geared at getting a tough to handle problem under control.