Austin Dentistry FAQ

Is it inevitable to lose teeth as I age?

No, tooth loss is not inevitable due, in large part, to developments in tooth care and the emphasis on preventative care. According to a survey released by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), the rate of toothlessness in people aged 55–64 has dropped 60% since 1960. By practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist for regular check ups, you can prevent dental problems and lengthen the lifespan of your teeth and gums.

As I age, are brushing and flossing daily as important as when I was younger?

Regardless of your age, thorough daily brushing and flossing is the key to good dental health and longevity of your teeth. Plaque, the

sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that causes tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, can build up quickly on the teeth of older adults, particularly when they neglect oral hygiene increasing your risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and clean between your teeth daily with floss. Choose products that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance, your assurance that the products have met the ADA’s standards for safety and effectiveness. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for exams and professional teeth cleaning.

Do elderly people get cavities?

Unfortunately, tooth decay is not a problem reserved for children. Adults of all ages can get cavities since the causes of tooth decay are the same for everyone, regardless of age. We suffer tooth decay when the bacteria in plaque feed on the carbohydrates in our diet to produce acids that cause cavities. Adults are more likely to have decay around old fillings. And, since many older Americans did not grow up with the benefits of fluoride, they may have more fillings than younger people. Tooth root decay is common in older adults and occurs when the gums recede, exposing the softer root surface. This decays more easily than tooth enamel.

I know gum disease can cause tooth loss. What can I do about this?

Gum disease (called periodontal disease) typically progresses slowly over a long period of time, often without pain or symptoms, one of the reasons why it’s so common in older adults. The longer it goes undetected, the more damage it can cause to your teeth and gums. In its early stages, gum disease can be reversed, but treatment of advanced cases may require surgery. The following are some of the warning signs of periodontal disease:

  • Bleeding gums when you brush
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth that are moving apart
  • Change in bite
  • Constant bad breath

I am too nervous to go to the dentist. What should I do?

Anxiety related to dental visits is very common, regardless of your age. Older patients, however, may be less able to cope with fear of the dentist due to other physical problems such as vision or hearing loss. Dr. Tejas Patel at The Center of Cosmetic & General Dentistry offers sedation dentistry to ease his patient’s fears. He may give you nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or a pill to help calm you down at the time of your procedure.

To learn more about how age affects our teeth and oral health, please contact Dr. Patel today to schedule your complimentary consultation at our Austin, Texas dental practice.