Dec 31, 2017 by Larry Morgan
Our bodies endure many changes as we age, and our mouths are no exception. But how do I know what changes are normal and what aren’t? Here’s what you should know:
Aging can have an impact on the health of our teeth and mouth in many ways. The most common changes we see are:
Additionally, seniors have a greater risk for cavities because of dry mouth and receding gums. The combination of these two leads to more exposed teeth, and an environment that can foster tooth decay.
There may also be some things you’ve heard about oral health as we age that are actually myths. Here are the most common ones, busted:
While you may assume you’ll end up with dentures at some point, it turns out that senior oral health has been steadily increasing over the years. There are even older folks in their 90’s and 100’s who still have most or all of their natural teeth!
This therefore means that other factors contribute more to tooth loss than aging. These may include diet, tobacco use, or your overall oral hygiene.
Though it is true the density of our taste buds decreases with age, loss of taste is usually caused by something else – primarily, smoking, disease, or poor nutrition.
Certain medications or an injury to the brain or mouth may also affect how you taste things. Consult your doctor if you notice a change in how you taste after an injury or after switching to any new medications.
Again, it may be true that our salivary glands begin to function less well over the years, but they are not the main culprit. It’s usually medications that cause dry mouth. If you’re experiencing this, talk to your doctor to get to the root of the problem and treat your symptoms.
Regardless of these myths, there are steps you can take to prevent both the normal and abnormal changes in your oral health:
In general, a healthy diet and good oral hygiene can help keep your teeth strong, clean, and healthy. If you have more questions or are concerned about something regarding your oral health, consult your dentist.