As an adult, you might be less vigilant about keeping regular dental visits compared to your childhood. Just because mom and dad are not driving you to your appointments anymore does not diminish the need for regular checkups and preventive care. If this applies to you, rest assured you are not alone. For many adults, the only reason they ever see a dentist is when they have an urgent need for relief of pain or to repair an injury that may affect the smile, the ability to communicate or to properly consume food. Here are some details on how to deal with dental problems as an adult:
The Stages of Gum Disease
People commonly think the only worry they have when it comes to oral health is to try to avoid getting cavities. While it is wise to limit the foods and beverages that promote tooth decay, regular brushing and flossing also provides the daily protection against gum disease. In the early stages, gingivitis is correctable and preventable. Left untreated, bacterial plaque builds up on the teeth turning to tartar and eventually becoming active infectious periodontitis.
The fact is, adult patients past the age of 35 lose more teeth to this disease than to dental caries or cavities. The damage to the jawbone and supporting structure eventually causes teeth to loosen. As the gums recede, tooth loss is typical, which further undermines the supportive bone and may require periodontal surgery to try to save what teeth are left.
The people at greatest risk are those practicing poor oral hygiene, those who have a systemic disease such as diabetes that compromises the immune system, smokers and sometimes pregnant women. Stress is also a highly contributive risk factor.
With proper brushing and flossing, gingivitis is reversible. Once it advances to periodontitis, the dental processes include a deep cleaning that also goes below the gum line as well as prescribing medicine to fight the infection. In severe cases, the need for surgery such as a gum graft may be necessary. You can avoid all this by keeping regular dental visits and reporting if your gums are bleeding or feel tender.
There are moments when hot or cold foods or even breathing in cold air can cause pain in what are termed sensitive teeth. There are several reasons for this sensitivity, including:
- cracks or fractures in the teeth
- gum disease
- broken down fillings
- enamel erosion
- exposed nerves
There are dental processes to treat sensitive teeth. Based on the cause of your sensitivity, your dentist may suggest a toothpaste designed to desensitize the teeth, but this is not intended to be a long-term solution. Alternative treatments could be root canal, crowns or bridges, proper fillings, or other restorative treatment to protect the nerves. The lifetime of dental fillings on average is only 10 years. Often when fillings breakdown, the teeth can break down with them. This is another reason to maintain your regular checkups.
There is no substitute for proper oral hygiene to combat the destructive nature of bacteria. Keeping the acids from sodas and citrus drinks to a minimum and avoiding over brushing are also methods of preventing erosion of the protective tooth enamel. It should be stated that neglecting your teeth may also subject you to other chronic health issues.
The inflammation associated with infection has a direct relationship to the inflammation that causes heart disease. People who persist with broken or missing teeth choose to alter their diet rather than repair the teeth, even though dentists are prepared to assist with financing. If you are not able to consume the healthy foods that need strong teeth to chew them, you can become nutrition deficient.
Adult Braces to Correct Problems
More adults these days are considering adult braces beyond mere aesthetic benefits that also have everything to do with boosting confidence. Certain conditions such as crooked teeth, malocclusion or improper jaw positioning can be the source of even greater problems with age. Braces are often the answer to both oral health and facing your positive future with confidence. They are truly a game changer.
Just because you are older, don’t think you are wiser if you have abandoned your responsibility to good oral health. The nature of disease due to neglect takes some time to develop. Because of the silence and the amount of time it takes for real damage to occur, the risk is both dangerous and possibly deadly. These days, dentists are prepared to assist patients with financing plans and alternative treatments to get you back to optimal oral health, so you should take advantage of the help and instill a renewed sense of dignity.
About the author:
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.