The oral health of older adults is often different from that of younger people.
First of all, the masticatory muscles can decrease in function due to aging, which can lead to problems with mastication efficiency (chewing), changes in the position of the lips, which can lead to cold sores, and a decrease in the function of the tongue, which can lead to pronunciation problems and problems swallowing food.
Your sense of taste may also change, and your salivation may be disturbed, causing your mouth to dry out.
The mucous membranes in the mouth can also become dry and thin, causing pain.
When it comes to your teeth, you’re more likely to develop gum disease, and your teeth may change color due to degeneration of the nerve tissue in your teeth and thinning of the enamel.
In addition, your teeth may be worn down from years of use, resulting in shorter teeth and flat chewing surfaces.
Here are some common dental problems after middle age and how to prevent them.
Midlife dental problems and how to prevent them
The prevalence of gum disease gradually increases with age, starting after the age of 30, and by the time people reach their 40s and 50s, a significant number of people will have gum disease, although the severity varies.
Given that gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults, it’s important to prevent and treat gum disease.
Gum disease, commonly referred to as “gingivitis,” is a disease of the tissues surrounding the teeth, including the gums, the root of the tooth (chalky), periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone.
Prevention and regular check-ups are crucial, as gum disease is often not felt until it has progressed to a certain point, and the main symptoms, including pain, are only felt after the disease has progressed considerably.
In the early stages of gum disease, symptoms come and go, and the disease progresses gradually, so it’s important to visit your dentist as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms.
The underlying cause of gum disease is oral bacteria.
Your mouth is home to hundreds of millions of bacteria, which adhere to the surfaces of your teeth in a thin, sticky film called plaque.
Plaque easily adheres to the tooth surface, and if left unremoved, it gradually produces bad toxins that cause inflammation and destroy alveolar bone, leading to gum disease.
If plaque is not removed daily through brushing, it will combine with calcium ions in saliva and calcify within a few days, turning into a hard mass called calculus.
Tartar comes in a variety of colors, including white, white-yellow, and brown, and must be removed by a dentist because it cannot be removed by brushing alone.
In addition, systemic health conditions such as diabetes and hyperparathyroidism, stress, and smoking can also contribute to gum disease.
Initial treatment of gum disease
The treatment of gum disease depends on the severity of the disease and how it responds to initial treatment. Treatment options include scaling and subgingival curettage, gingivectomy, periodontal valve surgery, alveolar bone regeneration, and gingival grafting.
As we’ve already mentioned, gum disease is primarily an inflammatory condition caused by oral bacteria.
Therefore, the most important prevention is to remove the plaque that causes it.
This film can be removed by brushing.
However, plaque is relatively sticky to the tooth surface, so it can only be removed with the correct method and persistence.
How you brush is more important than how often.
In the case of gum disease, the gums are receding, the spaces between the teeth are wider, and the roots are more exposed, making it difficult to completely remove plaque by brushing alone.
Therefore, you should use auxiliary methods such as flossing and an interdental toothbrush.
Once the pain and discomfort are gone, it”s easy to assume that the disease is over and not seek further treatment.
However, gum disease is caused by the bacteria that live in your mouth, and it’s impossible to completely eliminate them, so it’s important to keep an eye on them.
Regular checkups can prevent gum disease before it occurs, and if it is detected, it can be treated early, which has many financial and time benefits.
Therefore, regular checkups and continuous care are essential.