THE AGEING MOUTH

THE AGEING MOUTH

People are living longer and healthier lives and older adults are more likely to keep their teeth for a lifetime than they were a decade ago. However studies show that older people have the highest rates of decay and gum disease and need to do more to maintain good oral health than their younger generation. There are certain risk factors which predispose an aging person to develop pain or disease in their mouth e.g. – MEDICATIONS – DIMINISHED SALIVARY FLOW – RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS – HORMONES + MENOPAUSE – DIABETES – CLENCHING OR GRINDING YOUR TEETH – SMOKING – STRESS – GENETICS – DIMINISHED IMMUNITY – POOR NUTRITION – CHANGE IN FINANCIAL STATUS MEDICATIONS AND DIMINISHED SALIVARY FLOW Older adults are likely to take medications that can impact oral health. To name but a few examples – diuretics, pain killers, blood pressure tablets and antidepressants can cause side effects such as dry mouth, soft tissue changes, taste alteration and excessive growth of the gum. Dry mouth leaves the mouth without enough saliva to wash away food and neutralize plaque, leaving you more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. In addition the condition can cause sore throat, problems with speaking, difficulty swallowing and hoarseness. Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture and will ask you to come for regular check ups to diagnose decay early and to help you mantain an impecable oral hygiene. Sjogrën’s syndrome is an autoimmune problem with affects people with rehumatoid arthritis leaving the patient with painfully dry eyes and mouth and is often undiagnosed by doctors. The individual often finds extreme relief when the disease is discovered and treated by their dentist. SPECIAL CONCERNS FOR OLDER WOMEN. Women who are menopausal or post – menopausal may experience changes in their mouths. Recent studies suggest that oestrogen deficiency could place post menopausal women at higher risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss ass well as bleeding gums. In addition hormonal changes in older women may result in discomfort in the mouth including pain and burning sensations in the gums and tongue. Menopausal gingivostomatitis is a condition that affects a small percentage of women. Gums that look dry or shiny, bleed easily could be a sign of this condition. Bone loss is associated with both periodontal disease and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis could lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth is decreased. Bisphosphonates which are used to treat osteoporosis and also after cancer therapy place patients at risk of very serious problems if teeth are extracted or in placement of implants leading to disintegration of the bone in the jaws. Examples of these are Zometa, Fosamax, Aredia and Didromnel. A digital panoramic xray of the jaws will determine your level of bone loss and the extent of any periodontal desease and regular dental check ups to diagnos with potential problems are essential. Digital panoramic xrays, periodontal treatment and specialist treatments are all available at Zen Smile Spa your English dentist in Javea Tel: 965793810. Dr. Carolyn Carbasse B.D.S. (Guy’s London)

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