#1: Tooth Decay
Tooth decay usually occurs on the surfaces of the teeth, but it can also occur around old fillings or at the tooth root. Though youngsters can certainly experience tooth decay, adults over age 50 are even more at risk. This is because the roots of their teeth become softer and can sometimes become more exposed, often making them more susceptible to cavities.
#2: Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is characterized by infection and inflammation of the gums and the bone that support and surround the teeth. In its early stages, it is called gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include swollen and red gums that bleed easily. In its advanced stages, periodontal disease is called periodontitis and can cause the gums to separate from the teeth, bone loss and possibly tooth loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of periodontal disease increases with age. About 47 percent of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease while just over 70 percent of adults over the age of 65 have gum disease. This is yet another reason is it vital for seniors to have regular dental exams and cleanings. Routine dental visits allow Dr. Hampton to monitor the health of patients’ gums and teeth and take the appropriate action to help prevent or treat periodontal disease.
#3: Dry Mouth
One of the purposes of saliva is to protect the teeth from decay. With less saliva present, the teeth might be at increased risk of decay. Many older adults take daily prescription medications, some of which cause dry mouth. Those experiencing these symptoms can stimulate the production of saliva by sipping water throughout the day or chewing on sugar-free xylitol gum or candies.
#4: Tooth Crowding
As individuals age, their teeth tend to shift. There are several possible reasons for this, including the propensity for teeth to migrate into empty spaces left by missing teeth. Shifting teeth can lead to misaligned and crowded teeth. Although this can cause cosmetic concerns, it is also an oral health concern because it can lead to tooth erosion and can damage the supporting bone and tissue matter.
If you feel as though your teeth are shifting, be sure to discuss it with Dr. Hampton, so he can recommend an appropriate treatment protocol, which might range from more frequent teeth cleanings to orthodontic treatment.
#5: Oral Cancer
Unfortunately, as with many other cancers, the risk of oral cancer increases with age. Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption also increase this risk. Although oral cancer can be fatal, the chance of survival is better the earlier it is detected and treated. This is yet another important reason to visit Dr. Hampton regularly. During patients’ routine dental exams, he will check for any signs of abnormality.
If You Are Overdue for Your Checkup
No matter what your age, it is important to visit the dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and oral health exams. If you are overdue for your checkup, schedule one right away.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hampton, contact the Hamptons Family and Cosmetic Dentistry by calling (972) 395-9292.