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The Importance of Dental Health for Seniors

Getting older is a blessing and sometimes it’s a pain-in-the-tooth. If you have a tooth that’s “talking to you” it’s probably saying, “Go to the dentist.”

More than 20 percent of our country’s populations were born between 1946 and 1964 – baby boomers – living longer than any other generation.

We want to feel as young as possible for as long as possible so we have to be proactive about our health. Regular dental check-ups are a must.

Some of us have the “if it’s not bothering me, I won’t bother it” mentality about oral health. But by the time a toothache starts, it may be too late.

The most common oral problems we face are cavities. The risk of getting a cavity increases with age, especially if you experience dry mouth, which may be a side effect of some medications. Dentists may recommend a saliva substitute or fluoride gel.

Are teeth yellowing or graying? That’s because the outer enamel layer is thinning and exposing the darker, yellower dentin. Teeth also darken because of foods that stain like coffee or the biggest culprit, tobacco. There’s an easy fix. Dentists can whiten your teeth with porcelain veneers, tooth bonding or a professional whitener.

Nearly 95 percent of oral cancer cases are found in men over 40. Dentists are the first line of defense in diagnosing the disease. It’s often discovered during a routine office visit.

Over time, acidic foods or medications could expose the root of a tooth and cause pain or hot and/or cold sensitivity. A crown or filling may be the answer.

There are many reasons our sense of taste decreases with age including prescription drugs such as ACE inhibitors, a deficiency in zinc or simply, poor oral health. Dentists are instrumental in assessing needs and suggesting further evaluation to if needed.

The rules offered below haven’t changed since we were kids, but we’re old enough now to listen and act.

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