Getting older is a natural part of life, and as we age our healthcare needs tend to change. Oral health is no different. Our dental office in Austin is committed to protecting smiles through every stage of life, and this month we want to dedicate our blog to the seniors of our community by providing them information on just how their dental care may affect their overall health.

Losing Teeth Isn’t a Guarantee

One of the most common misconceptions about our teeth is that as we get older… they’re going to fall out. We’re here to tell you that’s not necessarily a guarantee. In fact, many people can keep their natural teeth throughout their entire lives — if they take good care of them. Of course regular brushings and flossings go a long way in sustaining oral health, but bi-annual visits to the dentist in Austin are more important now perhaps more than ever.

Since the nerves inside our teeth shrink as we age, we may not feel a cavity coming on like we used to and we may never suspect a problem. However, seeing the dentist every six months can catch and treat decay before it has a chance to cause some real damage. It’s when this decay isn’t treated in time that people tend to need a crown or perhaps an extraction.

Missing Teeth Affects Overall Health

While missing a tooth, or several teeth, can certainly affect oral health and any remaining natural teeth, it can also have a direct effect on overall health. Missing teeth inhibits what we can eat, making it difficult to get all of the nutrients our bodies need. Teeth also play an important role in gum health and jaw bone health. Without them, bone density diminishes and gums tend to recede. This recession provides little gaps where bacteria can hide. If left there, this bacteria build up can lead to gum disease, which brings on a whole host of other problems.

Alzheimer’s & Gum Disease

Recent research has not only suggested a link between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes and stroke, but also Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, according to one study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, people over 50 who have had gum disease for ten or more years were 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s than those without any gum disease or inflammation. Even though the researchers did state that this doesn’t prove an absolute connection between the two, it does support the idea that diseases that have some sort of inflammation such as gum disease may be directly related to the development of Alzheimer’s.

Protecting Seniors’ Smiles

Caring for your teeth by properly brushing and flossing them every day and maintaining regular visits with your dentist are crucial steps you can take to both keep teeth healthy for life and protect the mouth and body from the dangers of gum disease. At our Austin dental office, we’re always accepting patients, young and old. If you or someone in your family hasn’t seen a dentist in over six months, we welcome you to call our office to schedule a visit. We’re always happy to see you!