Cause for Concern
Some changes to your teeth and gums aren't normal and shouldn't be overlooked. These symptoms could signal something more serious and are reason to talk to your dentist right away:
Tooth Loss -- Dental cavities and gum disease are the leading culprits of tooth loss in seniors, but neither is a normal part of aging. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there's no reason why your teeth should fall out. With good oral hygiene and regular professional care, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime.
Dry Mouth -- Many seniors experience a reduced flow of saliva, sometimes as a side effect of medical conditions, medications or medical treatment. The problem is that saliva is needed to lubricate the mouth, wash foods away and neutralize the acids produced by plaque. Left untreated, dry mouth can lead to tooth decay.
Bleeding Gums -- Experiencing bleeding gums when you brush is a sign of periodontal (gum) disease, a leading cause of tooth loss in seniors. But gum disease is not an inevitable result of aging; it's caused by the build up of plaque. Left untreated, gum disease is linked to other health concerns like arthritis and heart disease. If you think you have gingivitis or gum disease, see your dentist for gum disease treatment.
Mouth Pain -- Any lesion found on the tongue or anywhere in the mouth should be examined by a dentist. Such sores can signal gum disease or oral cancer. Seniors are at higher risk for oral cancer, especially smokers, heavy drinkers and those who've had a lot of exposure to ultraviolet light.
Regular dental visits can help detect and treat dental problems in the early stages and are just as important for seniors as for younger people. Simple self-help tips such as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are also important in combating the effects of aging. Talk to your dentist to find out how often you should come in for routine dental care. If you don't have a dentist, don't worry! We can find you one.