Retirement comes with its pros and cons. The pros include not having to wake up early for a job you probably didn’t like, spending more time with the grand kids and enjoying a round of bingo with your girlfriends of fifty years. The cons include dealing with the effects of aging on the human body. One of those effects is the increasing number of health concerns that you have to grapple with. Included in that list of health concerns are oral concerns. You might not spend a lot of time worrying about your teeth when you are younger, but with age you’ll find yourself starting to pay attention. There are seven common oral concerns that seniors particularly struggle with. The good news is that each of these concerns has a remedy, with the most common theme being proper dental care.

Dry Mouth

Have you ever taken some medication and then afterwards felt as if your whole mouth is parched? If so, what you just experienced is dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition that occurs when the production of saliva by the salivary glands is compromised. This could be as a result of medication that you are taking, an infection or even dehydration. In seniors, dry mouth is often as a result of medication. It is not uncommon to find seniors taking several medications to manage certain conditions and ailments. If you have dry mouth, which is also sometimes called xerostomia, you may consider temporary solutions such as chewing gum or sucking on hard candy. Make sure this is sugar-free as you do not want an additional cavity problem on your hands. Staying hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day also helps. In very severe instances where medication is causing dry mouth, you might want to talk to your doctor about switching medication.

Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is often a symptom of an underlying problem. Sometimes the problem is that you forgot to clean your teeth properly and in other cases the problem might be something more serious like an infection. Infections of the liver and kidney can cause bad breath. The same holds for conditions such as diabetes. If you are suffering from bad breath, the first step is to ensure that your dental hygiene is adequate and as recommended. If you have been doing everything right and still have bad breath, it’s time to see a dentist. Sometimes, gum disease creeps up on seniors and causes bad breath. You might not be able to catch the signs of gum disease early on but your dentist will.

Improper Care of Dentures

It is easy to neglect dentures and not give them the proper cleaning and care that is required. Most people who do so attribute this to the fact that dentures are after all fake teeth and not as sensitive as natural teeth. This could not be further from the truth. Dentures are not a ticket pass to forego proper dental care. In fact, you should care for your dentures with even greater commitment than you did your natural teeth, as they are your second chance at enjoying your favourite foods and having a great smile. At Sorin Boeriu DDS—your Kitchener dentist—we advise our patients to properly brush their dentures at least once a day, preferably before bed. Brush your dentures as you would your teeth and let them soak overnight in a cleaning solution. Whenever possible, always rinse your dentures after every meal. Taking good care of your dentures will protect them from discoloration and will also prevent build-up of plaque which could lead to gum disease.

Cavities

Tooth cavities are the slow and painful deterioration of a once-healthy tooth to a gaping hole, that which often leads to excruciating toothaches in the dead of the night. Seniors who have been exposed to sugary foods for an extended period of life (aka their lifetime) are likely to have cavities, especially when proper dental hygiene was not a big part of their life. To prevent cavities, the best thing to do is practice proper brushing and flossing. If you have a sweet tooth, try some moderation and always clean your teeth after indulging in overly sweet foods.

Tooth Loss

Tooth loss is a common problem facing many seniors, especially those who have suffered gum disease in their past. Gum disease has the potential to lead to gum tissue and jaw bone loss, which ultimately results in tooth loss. At the same time, seniors have a high likelihood of having lost their teeth to tooth decay. It is no wonder that a quarter of all seniors have lost their teeth. What’s more—most seniors aged 65 and above have lost at least 14 teeth in their lifetime. If you have lost any or all your teeth, you can still have a normal life by choosing replacement teeth. At our dental clinic, we encourage our patients to always take care of their teeth to prevent oral issues, but always have alternative for those who already have undergone these issues, including tooth loss.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a condition that involves the inflammation of the gums. Inflammation often results from improper dental care, thus leading to build-up of plaque and the associated breakdown of the teeth and gums. Gum disease is often characterized by sore gums which are often swollen and bleeding. When left untreated, or when treated too late, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. The reason why seniors are highly susceptible to gum disease is because they have had time for plaque to build up, only for the detrimental results to make themselves known during retirement. At our Kitchener dental offices, we advise our patients to brush their teeth and floss properly to avoid gum disease. If gum disease has already set in, we can discuss treatment options with you.

Tooth Discoloration

Tooth discoloration often comes about as a result of two main things: aging and lifestyle choices or circumstances. As you age, there is a certain acceptable and expected discoloration that happens. Your teeth will not be as white as they used to be when you were younger. Lifestyle choices such as smoking heavily and indulging in lots of caffeine can aggravate the discoloration process, and even cause severe yellowing of teeth. If your teeth are severely discoloured, our experienced dentists will advise you on what options there are as far as reclaiming your aesthetics is concerned. If you are struggling with discoloured teeth or any other oral problem, visit our Kitchener dental office for a comprehensive consultation. Regardless of your age, you have a chance of enjoying your life with healthy teeth if you reach out for help in good time–and there’s no time as good as the present.