3 Dental Health Concerns Seniors Should Know About

Growing old is a surreal experience as while you may think and feel just like a 16-year old, your face, dental health and body will show the true signs of your time on earth. Some individuals may opt to spend money on cosmetic dentistry to look younger, while others may up their exercise routine; however, no matter what strategy to look younger is implemented there are dental problems specifically linked to aging.

Over time, individuals can officially earn the dental idiom of being “long in the tooth” because of their time spent on earth. The expression was originally coined as a way to describe an age of a horse because as they get older, their gums will recede (thus giving the appearance of having long teeth). Aging humans are subject to this type of biological change in addition to other adjustments associated with growing old, and WH Family Dental wants to let you know now to prevent any potential shock down the road.

Jaws Shrink with Age

Jawbones are a living part of the skeletal system that help defines a person’s face as well as providing a solid surface for which teeth can be firmly anchored. Results of a forty-year study have indicated that jaws can shrink over time resulting in tooth overcrowding in senior mouths.

The findings have come from the Faculty of Dentistry at Malmö University. The study kicked off 1949 and involved analyzing the plaster molds made off of 30 dental students who were in their twenties. A second batch of molds were made 20 years later when the students were fully licensed dentists. A final set of molds was made for 18 remaining participants forty years after the very first set were created. When those devices were lined up and compared side-by-side it was found that over time the lower jaw had became both shorter and thinner by several millimeters, resulting in tooth-crowding. (Expertanswer. “Teeth crowded in seniors, as jaws shrink.” ScienceDaily, 31 Oct. 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.)

Other Oral Changes Linked to Aging

The jawbone is not the only body part to be impacted by aging as every organ, hair follicle and tooth will be impacted by the natural process of a body’s systems slowing down. When it comes to the latter, the appearance of a smile changes because of a shrinking jaw and lessened skin elasticity, however some of the oral changes associated with aging are more than skin deep.

According to the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging, the five most common dental problems associated with aging include:

  • Saliva production will naturally slow down, causing dry mouth.
  • Ill-fitting dentures caused by tooth crowding, shifting teeth and receding gums.
  • Increased odds of developing gum disease that can be negatively impacted by seniors implementing less-effective oral hygiene.
  • More occurrences of tooth decay.
  • Greater odds of developing oral cancer.

Seniors Must Fight the Power

Dental care and preventative dentistry are essential to ensure that seniors lower their risk of any potential dental problems. The process involves the basic principals of brushing, flossing, eating a nutritious diet, exercising, drinking clean fresh water and maintaining regular appointments with a dentist so they can closely monitor any changes that may take place.

Aging individuals or their caretakers that need to find a dentist up to handling the dental needs associated with aging can call WH Family Dental to find a great dental care provider up for the task.