Why Seniors Need To Look Into Stay On Top Of Annual Cleanings

Since many health insurance carriers do not provide dental services, many people forgo their annual cleanings instead of getting dental insurance. Whether you have a policy or not, it's important that you make time for a dental cleaning. Brushing and flossing aren't enough to keep your teeth clean. While your oral hygiene routine can help you remove plaque, a sticky substance of bacteria that can form on your teeth, it cannot remove tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque that can only be removed with the tools of a dental professional. If it isn't removed, you could be prone to decay and gum disease. While dental cleanings are necessary for everyone, they are especially important for seniors. Here's why. 

The Medications You take Could Affect Saliva Flow

While saliva flow is decreased ever so slightly as you age, certain pharmaceutical drugs can speed up this issue. Many seniors have medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect. When your mouth doesn't produce enough saliva, bacteria can more easily thrive in the oral cavity and cause bad breath and decay. Saliva also contains minerals and proteins that can further protect your enamel, so with less of it, you are stripped of that protection. The Oral cancer Foundation says that 30% of all tooth decay in seniors is caused by dry mouth. Changing your medications and/or drinking more water can help; but, you truly need a dental cleaning to stay on top of any bacteria that could be thriving.

Your Gums Recede

The idiom "long in the tooth," isn't far off, since your gum tissues can recede as you age, exposing more enamel. Just like your skin can lose some of its elasticity as you age, your gums can lose elasticity as well and shrink. If you don't go in for cleanings, this gum recession can make it easier for bacteria to break down tooth root structures and bone structures. In the worst cases, you could lose your teeth. 

Dry Mouth and Receding Gums Can Increase the Risk of Gum Disease

According to Perio.org, one in every two Americans has some form of periodontal disease, ranging from gingivitis to severe gum disease. Since seniors often have to deal with dry mouth and receding gums, this risk can increase. Gum disease not only destroys your teeth and oral tissues, it can set you up for chronic inflammation and serious disease. It's important that you go in for a dental cleaning so you dentist can measure gum pocket depth and clean them out before gum disease takes hold.