It may shock you to get a cavity as an aging adult. The truth is, however, that aging adults can be just as prone to tooth decay as children. One of the leading reasons for cavities in the aging population is dry mouth. Not only does the mouth tend to dry out as we get older, but there are several medications that contribute to low saliva production too. At the office of Dr. Wayne Suway, we specialize in senior dental care. To this end, we are keenly aware of the risk of tooth decay in patients who are taking certain medications.
Can You Blame Your Prescription for Your Tooth Decay?
Medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect, which can increase the risk of developing cavities. Saliva is important for maintaining oral health, as it helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acids that can lead to tooth decay. When your mouth is dry, bacteria can accumulate more easily on your teeth, and the lack of saliva can allow harmful acids to build up and damage your tooth enamel.
In addition, some medications, such as antihistamines, can also cause a decrease in the production of saliva, which can further increase the risk of cavities. If you take medication that causes dry mouth, it’s important to take extra steps to maintain good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly, using a fluoride mouthwash, and drinking plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist. You may also want to talk to your doctor or dentist about ways to manage the side effects of your medication to help prevent cavities and other oral health issues.
Other Culprits to Cavities for Senior Patients
Dry mouth isn’t the only reason why an aging adult may be prone to tooth decay. As people age, they may become more prone to tooth decay due to a variety of factors. Here are some other common reasons why your dentist may say you need a filling later in life:
- Gum recession: Gum recession is a common problem among aging adults, and it can expose the sensitive root surfaces of the teeth to bacteria and acids that can cause decay.
- Weakened tooth enamel: Over time, the enamel on our teeth can become weakened and more susceptible to decay. This can be due to factors such as diet, medication use, and general wear and tear.
- Poor oral hygiene: As people age, they may become less able to maintain good oral hygiene due to physical limitations or cognitive decline. This can lead to an increase in the buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause tooth decay.
- Diet: Aging adults may be more likely to consume sugary and acidic foods and drinks, which can contribute to tooth decay if not properly managed.
To reduce the risk of tooth decay in aging adults, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene, maintain a healthy diet, and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. At the office of Dr. Wayne Suway, we may also recommend additional preventive measures, such as fluoride treatments or dental sealants, to help protect your teeth from decay. We know the medications you are taking are important to your overall health. You can count on our Marietta dental team to provide dry mouth treatment and other dental services to protect your smile against your medication side effects or the natural aging process. We take pride in helping patients achieve a confident and healthy smile at every stage of life!