Oral Health Risks for Seniors

handsome older gentlemanOur Sacramento dental office cares for patients throughout all stages of life and understands that patients of different ages have different needs. We also want our patients to know that oral health risks change with every birthday. Today, we focus on those risks that can affect the senior population.

  • Discolored TeethTeeth can begin to lose a bit of luster and take on a darkened appearance. This typically happens because the top protective layer of tooth enamel can become thinner as we age. With this layer gone, the insides of teeth become more visible. Since the color of the inner tooth is often dark and a bit yellow in color, teeth also look yellow or dark.
  • Dry MouthThere are numerous things that can cause dry mouth, but the most common culprit for seniors is medication. Many medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, list dry mouth as a potential side effect. When the mouth becomes dry there isn’t enough saliva to wash away decay-causing bacteria leaving teeth at risk for cavities, the need for a root canal, or even tooth loss if left untreated.  
  • Tooth LossIt’s a common misconception that it’s inevitable that we’re all going to lose our teeth, or at least some of them, due to aging. But this doesn’t have to be the case. The best way to protect teeth and keep them strong and healthy is to brush and floss regularly and see the dentist in Sacramento twice a year.  
  • Gum DiseaseGum disease is basically an infection below the gum line that results in red, inflamed gums and can lead to tooth loss. However, gum disease can also increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and as recent research suggests, Alzheimer’s disease. While there’s still more work to be done before scientists can truly say if gum disease is related to Alzheimer’s, one study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy strongly correlates diseases with levels of inflammation, including gum disease, to Alzheimer’s.  

Protect Your Teeth, Lower the Risk

Even though you can’t fight the aging process, and there’s still nothing you can do to keep from getting older, there are ways you can protect your oral health and reduce the risk of developing some of the most common oral health problems that affect seniors.

  • Brush and floss every day
  • See your dentist bi-annually
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you have dry mouth
  • Talk with your dental team about any changes in your mouth

If it’s time to make your oral health a priority so you can have a strong, healthy smile for a lifetime, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sacramento to schedule an appointment.

Are Headaches and Dentistry Related?

woman with headacheAll of us have experienced at least one headache throughout our lives. And while headaches are certainly uncomfortable, there are millions of Americans who suffer with regular headaches or more severe migraines regularly. During this National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, our dental office in Sacramento wants to help do our part by educating our neighbors on how these debilitating migraines or headaches may just be related to dentistry.  

Is it a Migraine or a Headache?

Defining the difference between migraines and headaches can be tricky since both conditions have very similar symptoms. While of course both are marked by some sort of pain in the head, whether that be throbbing pain or dull pain, there are several symptomatic differences between the two that can help distinguish one from the other.

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain isn’t typically concentrated on only one side of the head
  • Pain doesn’t appear to worsen with activity
  • Usually has a more constant pressure sensation
  • Doesn’t result in symptoms in other parts of the body

Migraine Symptoms

  • One side of the head tends to hurt more, although not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea

The Link Between Dentistry, Migraines, and Headaches

Even though the symptoms of headaches and migraines are most noticeable in the head, they may be triggered by something in the mouth. As weird as that may sound, it actually makes a lot of sense when considering the complex anatomy that surrounds and links to the head, including the mouth and jaw joints. That’s where the problems can begin.

Research has shown a promising correlation between a bad bite and headaches or migraines. When the top and bottom jaw joints (TMJ) don’t line up in a harmonious way, too much pressure is placed on the muscles in this area. Since everything in our bodies is interconnected, and these muscles happen to connect to the head, the pain that may be caused by a tired, worn out jaw muscle can find its way into the head, causing a headache or migraine. Bruxism, or chronic tooth grinding/clenching can have a similar effect.

An appointment at our our Sacramento dental office can help evaluate your bite and check for any signs that you may have bruxism, either of which may be related to headaches or migraines. We will then discuss the best treatment options to help. Give us a call today, we’ll be happy to help.