Be Aware of Special Dental Issues
The older you get, the more susceptible you are to oral health issues. Luckily, you can help head off these issues with a consistent oral health care routine (see above). But if oral issues arise, your dental professionals can help with diagnoses and treatments.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Your oral care routine doesn't just save your teeth. Your home dental regimen could help you prevent these types of gum disease:
- Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms include red, swollen, or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush them. The good news is that gingivitis in its early stages is reversible. So, if you notice any gingivitis symptoms, see your dentist before a more serious problem develops.
- Periodontitis is that more serious problem. With this condition, your gums can start receding and might lead to tooth loss. We definitely don't want that to happen!
The health of your gums might also affect your overall health – or be a sign of a serious health problem. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) reports links between gum disease and other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and cancer.
Tooth Decay (Cavities)
Not only can you develop cavities in previously healthy teeth, but you can get cavities around existing fillings (called recurrent decay). And decay on the root surfaces of the teeth is more common in adults.
When gums tissue recedes as a result of periodontal disease or from wear and tear caused by improper toothbrushing technique, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. Since the root isn't protected by enamel, it's prone to produce sensitivity or pain to cold/hot foods and beverages. In severe cases, cold air and sensitivity to sour/sweet drinks and foods can occur.
If you experience sensitivity, try a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity might indicate a more serious condition, such as a cavity, a cracked or fractured tooth, or nerve exposure.
Whether due to decay, disease, or trauma, damage to your teeth more likely will occur the longer you live. If that happens, there are fixes to restore your smile:
- Crowns entirely cover (or cap) a damaged tooth to strengthen the tooth – and improve its appearance, shape, or alignment.
- Implants and bridges replace missing teeth. Consult with your dentist to find out the better option for you.