Dental Care Challenges Later in Life
Older age often brings a variety of healthcare challenges, including oral health concerns. It’s important to continue to see your dentist at least every six months to have your oral health carefully monitored for signs of trouble. If you experience any unusual symptoms in between scheduled check-ups, you may need to see your dentist sooner.
Xerostomia is also known as dry mouth. It’s a symptom, rather than a disease itself. Often, it’s the result of underlying medical conditions, or it’s a side effect of medications. If you’re experiencing persistent dry mouth, talk to your primary care physician about whether an undiagnosed or previously diagnosed medical condition could be causing it. Your dentist can also recommend products that can help relieve your dry mouth.
It’s often thought that kids are most at risk of cavities. While children certainly do develop tooth decay at an alarming rate, people of any age can get cavities. Seniors are at a high risk because of the greater incidence of dry mouth. Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth of food debris and bacteria, so dry mouth can encourage cavity formation. It may also be more difficult for seniors to care for their teeth properly if they have dexterity problems. Your dentist may recommend an electric toothbrush and water flosser to overcome obstacles to proper oral care, such as arthritis.
Most people who develop oral cancers are diagnosed after age 60. Since oral cancers do not always cause symptoms early on, they may go undetected until they are quite advanced. This is another reason why it’s crucial to see your dentist for routine exams. Make sure your dentist performs an oral cancer exam at each appointment. Even if you’ve never smoked, you may still be at risk of oral cancer.
Saint Therese of Woodbury offers compassionate senior care through a variety of living arrangements, including independent living, assisted living, and memory care. They also offer transitional care for individuals seeking to return home after hospitalization, as well as hospice care for those at the end of life. Seniors or their family members can call (651) 209-9132 to ask about apartment availability in Woodbury, MN.