Gum disease is a serious oral health issue that can result in tooth loss and other severe consequences if it is not treated in a timely manner. What you may not realize, however, is that the chances of suffering from gum disease increase significantly as you get older. In fact, more than two-thirds of adults who are at least 65 years old have some form of gum disease. Your periodontist is here to explain how age and gum disease are linked as well as give you some tips for protecting your smile.
Why are Seniors at a Higher Risk for Gum Disease?
There are several reasons why gum disease tends to be particularly common among seniors:
- Certain Medications: Some of the medications that you might have to start taking as you get older can lead to a dry mouth. The lack of saliva can increase the chances of gum disease occurring.
- Alcohol and Tobacco: Certain habits such as smoking and frequent drinking can take their toll on your oral health over time, ultimately increasing your risk for gum problems.
- Diabetes: Age is considered a risk factor for diabetes. This is significant because untreated diabetes can make gum disease worse.
- Poor Nutrition: As you grow older, you may find it more difficult to maintain a nutritious diet, which can have serious consequences for your overall oral health.
How Can You Protect Your Smile from Gum Disease as the Years Go By?
If you don’t want to have to deal with the worst consequences of gum disease during the later years of your life, you need to be proactive about taking proper care of your mouth. Below are some simple steps you can follow in order to keep your gums healthy:
- Continue to practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. Don’t forget to also rinse with mouthwash that can help fight harmful oral bacteria.
- Give up smoking and any other habits that can put your gum health at risk.
- Make sure that your everyday diet includes plenty of vitamin C – an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy gums.
- Try to avoid overindulging in foods and beverages that contain a lot of sugar.
- Schedule at least two dental checkups and cleanings every year to get rid of the plaque and tartar that can lead to gum disease.
You can’t stop yourself from aging, but you can take steps to reduce your risk for gum disease as much as possible. Reach out to your periodontist today if you have any concerns about the health of your gums.
About the Author
Dr. David Handsman is a well-respected member of the periodontal community who has earned Diplomate status from the American Board of Periodontology. At Handsman & Haddad Periodontics in Worcester, he’s always happy to help patients who are struggling with gum disease. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Handsman, visit his website or call (508) 753-5444.