Waving down the ice cream truck and sitting on a step eating an ice cream…
Tooth decay might be most commonly talked about among kids and teens, but that does not mean that it does not occur as you age. In fact, seniors are at a higher risk for tooth decay than any other age group. As you enter your golden years, it becomes even more imperative to keep your regular dental appointments to ensure that you are free from the risk of tooth decay, allowing you to keep your natural teeth in good health.
The Role of Saliva
One of the largest reasons that the elderly begin to experience extensive cavities as they age is because of the lack of saliva that is being produced. This is not a side effect of aging that everyone will experience, but with the help of medication or certain physical illnesses, the amount of saliva produced can be greatly reduced. Saliva plays an important role in a person’s oral health as it is the way that sugars and harmful food particles are washed away from the mouth. With less saliva being produced, sugars are left on the teeth for a longer period of time, giving the sugar time to work with the bacteria in your mouth to produce harmful acids that eat away at the enamel of your teeth.
Helping your Mouth
If you are suddenly experiencing a dry mouth and have an onslaught of cavities to deal with, there are a variety of things that you can do to decrease your risk of cavities:
• Drink plenty of water – Water works just like saliva in helping the food particles to wash away. In addition, water will keep you hydrated, keeping your mouth moist and preventing that dry mouth feeling.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol – Caffeine and alcohol both contribute to dehydration and decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth. Try to avoid consuming them at all or at the very least, consume them only in moderation.
• Brush and floss – Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day and using mouthwash will help to keep your mouth moist and your teeth in good health.
If you find that no matter how much you watch your diet and take care of your teeth that you are still getting cavities, you can talk to your dentist bout dental sealants. The sealants help to seal your teeth from the acids that cause tooth decay and are a perfect solution for seniors that are suddenly dealing with an onslaught of tooth decay.