As you get older, you feel proud of taking such good care of your teeth over the course of your lifetime. It may seem like the risks of gum disease, tooth decay and other problems are far behind you, but the aging process has a surprise. Older patients enter what is known as the second stage of cavities. That’s right. You can get cavities long after childhood and adolescence. What is a Cavity?
It has been so long since you had a cavity and filling, so we want to provide some basic information. A cavity is a hole in the tooth that develops when bacteria and plaque penetrate the enamel. As you can imagine, having a hole in your enamel leaves the tooth exposed and vulnerable to tooth loss and other problems. A cavity is treated by cleaning out the hole and filling it with a material to seal the opening.
Why Do Older Patients Develop Cavities?
Even with the best brushing and flossing technique, you can still develop a cavity when you get older. The reason might surprise you. Medications and medical conditions that are part of being older cause dry mouth. When you have dry mouth, you do not have enough saliva to keep your teeth clean in between your brushing and flossing. The result is a cavity or two. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s cause dry mouth, so these patients need extra support to keep their teeth and gums clean and prevent dry mouth.
How Can I Prevent Dry Mouth?
We recommend that you first speak with your physician about changing to medications that do not have dry mouth as a side effect. You can also drink more water and carry sugar-free gum with you to stimulate saliva production. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. At your next appointment, ask us about applying a fluoride gel or varnish to your teeth to protect them against the plaque and bacteria that cause cavities. Your hygienist can also provide some education on ways that you can improve your brushing and flossing techniques.
Learn More About Oral Care for Older Patients. Contact Dutch Neck Dental.
To learn more about oral care for older patients, teeth whitening, root canal therapy and our other services, contact Dutch Neck dental to schedule an appointment. Our office is conveniently located in East Windsor, New Jersey, and you can call us directly at (609) 448-7440.