Dental Problems in Adults?
As you get older, changes to your physical health and wellbeing – including your teeth and gums – are to be expected. It doesn’t help that this is a stage in your life where family and work responsibilities tend to take up the lion’s share of your time. As life gets busier, good oral hygiene habits tend to fall by the wayside.
Getting caught up with everyday pressures and demands can also result in your neglecting to use regular professional dental care. In fact, our principal dentist Dr Dunn was featured in the Huffington Post discussing this very topic. When was the last time you visited a dentist for a comprehensive oral exam or professional cleaning session?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the common issues that affect middle-aged dental patients.
Middle-aged adults are no less susceptible to dental health risks as compared to their youthful counterparts. In fact, one of the most common issues for adults in this stage of life is periodontal disease – which refers to inflammation of the gums. When gum disease advances to a stage known as periodontitis, it can result in tooth loss and bone deterioration, which are rather common occurrences in late adulthood.
Although gum disease can start at any age, there are certain age-related health factors – such as uncontrolled diabetes and lack of exercise – that can heighten the risk. Researchers have found that men aged between 45-65 with low levels of exercise are more likely to develop moderate to severe gum disease.1 These adults who did not join in any sporting activity also tended to work in desk-bound jobs in the office.1
Another study found that type-2 diabetes – a medical ailment that affects older adults and seniors – can cause periodontitis.2 Establishing a link between diabetes and a shift in the oral microbiome, the study suggests that good oral hygiene can reduce the risk factors for both diabetes and periodontal disease.2
People with type 2 diabetes also have lower resistance to infection, which makes them more prone to gum diseases – type of oral infection – than others.4
Missing Teeth/Tooth Loss
Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in the middle-aged and elderly.3 Missing teeth not only affect your appearance but also your ability to chew food and pronounce words clearly.
Your ability to chew your food well also contributes to your broader health. For one, you don’t have to avoid certain types of food due to your tooth loss condition – and miss out on important nutrients. Secondly, chewing food into smaller morsels aids better digestion of food. If you have missing teeth (or even a single tooth), learn more about treatment options here.
Dry Mouth Syndrome
It is estimated that a quarter of older adults does not produce enough saliva and experience a dry mouth.4 Failure to manage dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth problems and gum disease. As you get older, saliva production tends to reduce.
Since saliva is a critical oral component that helps to flush out food debris and counter enamel-eating acids produced by bad bacteria, the decrease of salivary flow with old age can contribute to tooth decay and other dental ailments. One of the ways to stimulate saliva production is to chew sugar-free gum.
Other Medical Conditions
The mouth, which is home to millions of bacteria, acts as a portal to the rest of the body. Just as studies have found links between diabetes and gum disease, they also indicate an association between periodontitis ( the advanced form of gum disease) and heart disease.5 Further, the two conditions share in common certain risk factors like excess weight, unhealthy diet and smoking.5
All the research points to the need for middle-aged adults to practice better oral hygiene habits, even as they look after their overall health. No matter how busy you may be, you need to find the time to look after your teeth and gums.
Check In Regularly with Your Dentist
If you wish to maintain an active oral care maintenance regime, please contact Macquarie Street Centre to book an appointment with one of our friendly dentists. Our central location in the city means that it's easy to see a dentist in Sydney CBD. You can contact our dental practice at 02 9247 1394.
As seen on Beauty Heaven, Dr Dunn answers general questions about dental health. See the video below for the expert advice!
1. "Laziness can lead to gum disease in middle-aged men: Fit men 40% less likely to suffer from the problem." Daily Mail Online. December 24, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2528724/Laziness-lead-gum-disease-middle-aged-men-Fit-men-40-likely-suffer-problem.html.
2. Clark, Lauren. "Type 2 diabetes sufferers are at higher risk of THIS lesser known complication." Express.co.uk. July 13, 2017. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/828283/diabetes-type-2-symptoms-gum-disease-periodontitis.
3. Liljestrand JM, et al. Missing Teeth Predict Incident Cardiovascular Events, Diabetes, and Death. Journal of Dental Research. 2015: vol. 94(8); 1055-1062.
4. "Healthier mouth, teeth and gums for over fifties." Bupa. https://www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness/health-information/az-health-information/oral-health-older-people.
5. "Oral Health: The Mouth-Body Connection." WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/oral-health-the-mouth-body-connection#2.