As we age, dental health is not just about having a good set of teeth. Just as aging changes different systems within the body, the oral cavity also undergoes a number of changes with increasing age.
Your dentist is a doctor of your dental health. They are capable of diagnosing and treating conditions that can range from routine to extremely complex. It is important to continue regular dental visits as you age and see your dentist immediately if you notice any persistent differences.
You may notice that it is becoming tougher to keep your teeth white. This could be for a couple of reasons:
- Plaque builds faster and in greater amounts as we age
- Dentin naturally changes and causes your teeth to look darker
Losing your sense of taste is common with age. Contributing factors to a decrease in sense of taste could be diseases, medications and possibly dentures.
When the saliva glands do not work properly, dry mouth may develop. Salivia is essential to good dental health as it keeps your mouth moist, washes away food and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque. Dry mouth can damage your teeth and make it difficult to eat, swallow, taste and even speak. Talk to your dentist about methods to restore moisture.
Oral cancer is more common in people over 45 who smoke, chew tobacco or abuse alcohol. Early signs of oral cancer are often difficult to detect without an examination by a dentist. Even if you do not have any natural teeth, or if you have never smoked, biannual oral cancer examinations by your dentist are recommended. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial in significantly increasing long-term survival. To help prevent this disease, reduce or remove the risk factors of tobacco and alcohol.