Jawbones are a living part of the skeletal system that help define a person's face as well as providing a solid surface for which teeth can be firmly anchored. Results of a forty-year study have indicated that jaws can shrink over time resulting in tooth overcrowding in senior mouths.
The jawbone is not the only body part to be impacted by aging as every organ, hair follicle and tooth will be impacted by the natural process of a body's systems slowing down. When it comes to the latter, the appearance of a smile changes because of a shrinking jaw and lessened skin elasticity, however some of the oral changes associated with aging are more than skin deep.
According to the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging, the five most common dental problems associated with aging include:
- Saliva production will naturally slow down, causing dry mouth.
- Ill-fitting dentures caused by crowding, shifting teeth and receding gums.
- Increased odds of developing gum disease, impacted by seniors implementing less-effective oral hygiene.
- More occurrences of tooth decay.
- Greater odds of developing oral cancer
Dental care and preventative dentistry are essential to ensure that seniors lower their risk of potential dental problems. The process involves basic principles of brushing, flossing, eating a nutritious diet, exercising, drinking fresh water and maintaining regular dental visits.
“Aging individuals need to find a dental home led by a team with a good understanding of age related dental issues” Dr. Cherukuri cautions.