SunWest Blog

Dental Topics for Adults over 60

Not too long ago, people assumed that we lose our natural teeth as we age, but these days, older adults are keeping their teeth longer than ever before.  While proper oral care habits are important at any age, adults over 60 have unique challenges to address.  One of the most common causes of decay in older adults is a chronically dry mouth, which is a common side effect of many medications.

How to combat a chronically dry mouth:

  • Use over-the-counter moisturizers for your mouth.
  • Talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking and whether to change the medication or dosage.
  • Drink lots of water, especially during the summers in the Valley.  Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day.
  • Use sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva production.
  • Use a humidifier in your home to keep moisture in the air.
  • Avoid coffee, alcohol, sodas and acidic fruit juices that irritate dry mouths.

Fighting Gum Disease

It has been estimated that half of American adults are affected by some form of gum disease. . Since it’s often a painless condition until the more advanced stages, gum disease is not typically addressed right away.  More advanced forms of gum disease can lead to tooth loss.  Seeing your dentist regularly can catch gum disease in its earlier stages when the condition is more treatable.

Checking for Oral Cancer

The American Cancer Society states that about 35,000 people are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer each year, and the average age of the diagnosed patient is 62.  During routine checkups, your dentist will look for any signs of oral cancer.  As with any cancer, early detection dramatically increases the survival rate of these conditions.  If you notice any open sores, white or reddish patches, and changes in the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks, make an appointment right away for a screening.

Maintaining good oral health is important throughout life, but it is especially important for seniors because unhealthy bacteria in the mouth may lead to serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and pneumonia. Great habits include brushing and flossing daily and visiting your dentist regularly.  If you’re due for a checkup, make an appointment today.