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Everyone at the office is very friendly and helpful, and the technicians are great. I feel like Westerville Dental is very much on top of the latest screening and monitoring techniques, and I really appreciate the thoroughness of the appointments in terms of measuring gum health as well as tooth health. I chose this place when I moved down here based on the good reviews, and I haven't been disappointed.
So professional AND friendly. I know that I am getting the best care for my whole family. Plus, the waiting area is beautiful and comfortable--like a living room!--with a special area for young ones to read and draw on the chalk boards.
So glad I found this office when I moved back to Ohio. I’ve had so many bad experiences at the dentist, this place is understanding and open to my questions, they explain everything and it really seems like they care. They also have an open and inviting waiting room that is beautiful.
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As you get older, you’ll likely experience changes in your body and overall health. Your teeth are not exempt from the changes! In fact, older adults are particularly vulnerable to tooth infections and their associated oral health problems. Infections are the main cause of tooth loss, which makes it harder to eat certain foods and has a significant effect on your appearance.
The change in diet that can result from tooth loss may make it harder to get the appropriate nourishment needed to maintain proper health. While the complete loss of teeth was once considered normal, it is no longer prevalent in the United States.
Your best defense against changes in your oral health as you age is practicing good oral hygiene. This includes using regular fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth and making sure you get regular dental care. This will reduce your chances of complications associated with oral infections as you get older.
What causes tooth loss in older adults?
Studies have shown that even though many people practice good oral hygiene regimens throughout their lives, they often become less obedient as they age. It’s no coincidence that there is a direct connection between this drop off in good practices and the increase in incidence of tooth decay in older adults. It’s a fact that the rate of dental cavities in older adults is nearly twice that of younger adults.
The risk of periodontitis, or gum disease, also increases with age. While only 38 percent of younger people are diagnosed in the United States with moderate or severe periodontitis, that rate jumps to 64 percent for older adults. Alongside tooth decay and cavities, periodontitis is a major contributor to tooth loss.
Older adults are also at increased risk of bone loss. Bone loss could affect the density of your jaw bone, which could make you more susceptible to tooth loss. It’s important to take preventive measures to make sure your bones remain healthy. Vitamin D and calcium are the critical vitamins needed to help prevent bone loss.
Are oral health issues related to other health concerns in older adults?
Any time a dentist performs treatments to teeth and the oral cavity, there is a risk that bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, bacteria can move throughout the body, possibly affecting any implants, artificial joints, replacement heart valves, or other similar appliances. Poor oral health could also lead simple acts like brushing your teeth to result in the chance of bacteria entering your bloodstream.
This is one reason why you’ve heard the constant drumbeat of the importance of a good oral hygiene regimen every time you visit the dentist. Good oral hygiene practices remain the most important way to prevent infections. Older adults should be particularly careful in regards to their oral health. If you have artificial joints or heart valves you should be extra careful. That said, you shouldn’t require antibiotics before having a dental procedure if you have artificial joints or artificial heart valves.
What should I do to make sure I maintain good oral health as I get older?
Routine checkups are your best defense against oral health issues. You should always discuss tooth pain or oral discomfort with your dentist or doctor at every visit. You should also have a conversation about dry mouth and dry mouth-related symptoms during all regular medical visits. Dry mouth and reduced saliva contribute to increased risk of tooth decay. If you are experiencing dry mouth, check with your doctor or dentist to see if it may be caused by medications you make be taking.
In addition, there are several steps you can take to make sure your teeth and mouth remain in great condition:
- Keep an eye out for dry mouth or chronic dry mouth symptoms and schedule a visit with your dentist if they come up.
- Keep sugarless candy or gum on hand to help with saliva production, particularly if you have symptoms of dry mouth.
- Make sure the toothpaste you use every day to brush your teeth contains fluoride.
- If you have dexterity issues, use an electric or battery-operated toothbrush to make it easier to keep your teeth clean.
- Continue to floss every day. If you have stiff hands, use a floss holder.
- If you have a history of tooth decay, talk to your dentist about prescription-strength fluoride rinses.
If you are caring for a chronically ill, older or disabled family member, there are simple steps you can make to help them maintain good oral health. If your loved one has memory issues, consider writing step-by-step, short instructions for flossing and brushing that can be easily referenced. Tape them on the wall or mirror in the bathroom near the sink.
In the end, the best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist regularly, discuss your concerns, and work together with dental professionals to establish and maintain a good oral hygiene regimen. Give us a call today at Westerville Dental Associates at 614-882-1135 to get on the road to a lifetime of great teeth!