Oral Health Concerns for Middle Aged Folks

As we age, our birthdays tend to bring new oral health issues along with them. It’s a fact of life that our teeth and gums are impacted by our age.

Here are some common problems to watch for, and suggestions for treatment.

Gum disease
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are vital to avoid gum disease. The first stage is called gingivitis and it’s reversible. If untreated, it can lead to a very serious advanced stage called periodontitis. You may not experience signs of gum disease, so practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist are the best ways to keep it at bay.

Tooth sensitivity
If cold or hot foods cause you discomfort, you have a common problem called tooth sensitivity. It can result from decay, worn fillings, gum disease, broken teeth, or exposed roots. Your dentist may recommend toothpastes designed to reduce sensitivity, or other treatments based on the cause of your problem. Good oral hygiene can help with sensitivity also.

Missing teeth
If you are missing any teeth, it not only looks unappealing but it can also affect your ability to eat and speak. Your other teeth may move, and bone loss can occur. Discuss treatment options with your dentist because you might be able to restore your smile. Bridges, implants, and dentures are a few of the dental advances that might help.

Dry mouth
Medicines and some health conditions often cause your mouth to be overly dry. Having a dry mouth is uncomfortable, but it also can seriously impact your teeth and gums. Without saliva to naturally clean your mouth, the risks of tooth decay and other problems increase. Ask your dentist to look for signs of decay, and to help you identify the cause for your dry mouth. Be sure to tell your dentist about your medical history and medications.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer can include your gums, lips, cheeks, tongue, jaw, throat, or soft palate. It sometimes begins with just a tiny spot or swollen area, so regular dental checkups can help catch this disease early. A variety of treatment options are available, but early detection makes a difference.

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Stages of Gum Disease

Caused by bacteria in plaque, gum disease can lead to pain, inflammation, and tooth loss. Though gum disease can occur at any age, it is most commonly seen in adults. Conservative estimates suggest that 80 percent of adults in this country have some level of gum disease, but many don’t realize they have a problem.

Left untreated, gum disease can damage your oral health and impact overall wellness. Various studies have linked gum disease to larger health concerns like increased risk of stroke, osteoporosis, and low-birth weight babies. Often, gum disease begins with mild symptoms, so it may be easy to miss. To protect your mouth, it helps to understand the progression of gum disease.

Stage 1: Gingivitis
Initially, gum disease presents as inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up and the toxins released irritate the gum tissue. With this early stage, gum disease can successfully be reversed because the bone and supporting tissue are still in good shape.

Stage 2: Periodontitis
When gum disease reaches this level, pockets begin to form below your gum line, which causes the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth. By this point, the bone and supporting tissue have sustained permanent damage, but periodontal therapy can restore your oral health and halt further progression.

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
If gum disease continues to the state of advanced periodontitis, the supporting structures in your mouth are in dire condition. Without intense therapy, you risk permanent tooth loss.

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