Dental Issues at 50—Part 1

 

Tooth cavity being attacked by bacteria
Photo by purple devil – yayimages.com

People who reach the age of 50 are not considered official senior citizens yet. However, try telling that to their bodies. ‘Oh my aching bones’ may still be an exaggeration at this point, but it is a good representation of how we start to be more cognizant of our health, including more frequent trips to the doctor and the dentist. Afterall, we all want to stay in the best of health when our grandchildren arrive.

As far as oral health is concerned, cavities, dry mouth and getting dentures are just some of the things we might be subjected to at this age.  In this two-part article series, we will focus our discussion on the frequent dental issues of people reaching their fifties.

Dry Mouth

Normal production of saliva in the oral cavity helps in the prevention of many periodontal diseases and if you are suffering from a constant dry mouth, then it can lead to the onset of tooth decay. Even though dry mouth can occur at any age, people at 50 and above are more prone to develop this condition because of these reasons:   

  • With age, the cumulative side effects of taking different medications start to appear, which results in the inability of the salivary glands to produce enough saliva.
  • Persistent use of caffeine based drinks and an old habit of smoking also badly affects the saliva production in older individuals.  

Saliva contains essential minerals such as phosphate and calcium which helps in preventing the demineralization of teeth. When the teeth are in a mineral enriched environment, they are more resistant to dental diseases, especially tooth decay.   

Many times, the issue of dry mouth gets so internalized that one fails to notice it. There are several signs which show that you are suffering from a dry mouth:

  • You are feeling it difficult to swallow and chew food
  • You might find a sticky sensation between the tongue and the palate
  • Harsh taste lingering even without eating anything  
  • Continuous bad breath and dry throat

You might not feel thirsty even with a dry mouth, so it is important to look out for the above-mentioned symptoms.  

Prevention of Dry Mouth

One can stimulate the production of saliva by taking several measures. Increasing the consumption of drinking water, chewing on sugar-free gum and candies (watch the sugar) are the easiest solution to increase the production of saliva.

Moreover, you can consult an experienced dentist. He/She might recommend you an OTC or prescribed saliva substitutes to reduce the dryness of the mouth. Like a care, keep your mouth well-lubricated and you can reduce the detrimental effects of age on your dental health.  

Cavities

We’ve all had them, especially when we were kids but cavities are not just associated with childbearing years; in fact, as we get older, dental cavities can begin to haunt us again. For people crossing the half-century mark, a number of conditions make them more susceptible to cavities. These include:

  • With age, the root of the tooth becomes spongier, which paves the way for the development of cavities there.
  • If you have already been treated with dental fillings than the surrounding surface becomes more vulnerable to get cavities.  

Even an oral care and cleaning routine can’t prevent the occurrence of cavities, but adding fluoride in it can help you to make your teeth more resilient against cavities. If water supply in your area is not treated with fluoride, then make sure that you add a fluoride rinse in your daily dental cleaning routine. Get a recommendation from your dentist about a good fluoride product. Bear in mind that benefits of fluoride for teeth are not just limited to kids.

Severe instances of cavities become apparent when the decay spreads from enamel to the dentin and even to the pulp of the tooth. Therefore, regular visits to dentists and looking for its signs are important for avoiding absolute tooth loss. A dentist can tell about the extinct of cavities with the help of a regular oral examination or dental X-rays.  

Cavities and caries are often indicated by a toothache and increased sensitivity, even if they are not evidently visible. It is important to treat the issue of the cavity in time because if left untreated, it can lead to the formation of pus in gums and other oral tissues.  

In next article, we will look in some other dental issues which are more likely to develop in the people aged 50 and above.

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