Cavities Aren’t Just for Kids! Seniors Too!

image of lady in dental chairIf you would ask any parent of a younger child, or especially the parent of a teenager or two, what health issues seem the most worrisome, you’d probably get the same answer repeatedly.

Lots of sugar intake, and therefore, lots of cavities.

Kids love sugar-laden cereals, guzzle sugary sodas and sports drinks, and chomp on sugar-loaded and sour-tasting candies.

It’s almost part of “being a kid”.

But the resulting cavities from eating and drinking lots of sugar aren’t just for kids. Seniors, men and women over age 65, must also be aware that they too are at risk for cavities. For many older people, the risk for a cavity even rises as they get older. People who had few dental problems and little tooth decay now, at ages over 65 as seniors, report cavities. Why?

• Sugar! Sugar is harmful to your teeth whether you are 6 or 60, so everyone should brush and floss regularly.

• Many medications for seniors result in dry mouth, and less saliva means a less natural cleansing of one’s mouth throughout the day and night.

• Seniors are much more likely to have recessed gums, and tooth decay can more easily reach tooth roots.

• When a person retires, he or she often loses dental insurance coverage. Many stop going to the dentist regularly or stop completely, resulting in untreated cavities.

• Health and aging challenges, such as dementia and loss of dexterity, can result in poor dental hygiene.

Only about 50 years ago, about 50% of people over age 65 in the U.S. had lost all of their teeth and wore dentures. Now, many senior adults still have at least some of their natural teeth.

Everyone, no matter if they are 5 or 15 or 85, need to be faithful to good dental practices. Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpastefloss once a day, and visit the dentist regularly. For some older adults, it may be necessary to use a stronger prescription fluoride toothpaste or use a mouthwash or other products to fight the effects of dry mouth.