What Happens to your Teeth as You Age?
While aging is inevitable, losing your teeth as part of the aging process doesn't have to be. So how do you keep your teeth, not only intact, but also strong and beautiful despite your age? It starts with good oral hygiene habits and continues with excellent senior dental plans. You shouldn't have to settle for sub-par dental coverage when you're at a time in your life when consistent and quality dental care is a necessity. While tooth loss doesn't happen to every elderly person, other unfortunate age-induced side effects happen to your teeth. If you're wondering what to watch out for, take a look at this list of things that happen to teeth as you age:
- Dry mouth. As you get older, your mouth gets drier, because your salivary glands aren't working as well. It also doesn't help that many common prescription medications cause dry mouth, which means you're getting a double whammy. Why is that such a bad thing? Saliva is what keeps that re-mineralization process going--it keeps your teeth strong and healthy. With less saliva, your teeth become less durable and more susceptible to tooth decay.
- Overall wear and tear. Years of chewing, grinding, and biting wear down the enamel on your teeth, which can lead to sensitive teeth and the consequent pain when anything hot or cold comes into contact with those teeth. It can also make chipping your teeth easier, because the enamel isn't as strong as it used to be.
- Gum disease and tooth loss. The nerves in your teeth get smaller as you age, and you're less able to feel pain related to tooth decay. This means you may be ignoring symptoms that, if left untreated, lead to gum disease and tooth loss. That's why many senior citizens are forced to get dentures, bridges, or implants.
According to an expert spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA), oral cancer, gum disease, and cavities are much more prominent in people who are older. In fact, more than 90 percent of people over age 65 had cavities in their teeth in a study done by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. In the same study, nearly 20 percent of seniors had untreated tooth decay and cavities.
How are these percentages so high? It's probably due to the fact that almost 40 percent of older adults haven't seen a dentist in the past year. Although you are more prone to cavities and tooth decay as you age, visiting the dentist on a regular basis can keep that in check.
Another alarming statistic from a CDC report shows that rates of oral cancer peak after age 60. That's just another reason to get dental insurance for seniors and to keep up those dental visits. Remember that you can always find affordable dental insurance, especially as a senior. Don't let the fear of a high cost for dental plans deter you from getting coverage. Plus, the price you have to pay for fixing decayed teeth and gums is much higher than a monthly insurance premium. In other words, having good dental insurance (and using it) is always worth it.
How can you keep your teeth healthy as you get older?
Now that you know what happens to your teeth as you age, you're probably wondering what you can do to prevent those symptoms, or at least keep them from getting worse. Here is a list of eight things you can do to keep your teeth in decent shape no matter you age:
- Drink more water or use dry mouth rinses to prevent your mouth from getting dry. Remember, saliva is the key to preventing tooth decay.
- Get an electric toothbrush to make brushing easier and more effective. Why make things harder on yourself? An electric toothbrush will get all your tooth surfaces clean without you having to do the constant back-and forth motions with your arm.
- Later in life, when tooth decay becomes more common, use a fluoridated rinse and toothpaste. The extra fluoride will help protect your teeth when they need it most.
- Eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. If you're not getting enough of these nutrients, you're at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. This in turn can increase your chances of tooth loss.
- Stay away from acidic and sugary foods and drinks (soda, citrus fruit juices, and candy). It's no secret that sugar plays a huge role in rotting teeth. Add acidic foods to sugar, and you have a recipe for disaster.
- Take care of sensitive teeth with the right toothpaste. If you're letting your sensitive teeth go untreated, they could get worse, which means more gum recession and a tighter limit on what you can eat.
- If you wear dentures, clean them on a daily basis and keep them out of your mouth for at least four hours every day. Like teeth, dentures need to be taken care of, or they won't last long either.
- As always, keep brushing and flossing twice a day, and keep visiting your dentist on a regular basis. If you have a good senior dental care plan, the latter should be much easier.
Getting older doesn't mean getting lazier with oral hygiene habits and consistent visits to the dentist. If anything, it should mean being more vigilant in the routines that have kept you healthy thus far.
Are there dental insurance plans better suited for seniors?
Yes, as a matter of fact, there are. Here are some examples of dental insurance plans especially for seniors available from EMI Health:
- Senior Choice PPO (High). With this plan, you'll get 100-percent coverage on preventive care with no waiting periods. You also have the flexibility to use any provider with the out-of-network benefit.
- Senior Choice PPO (Low). This one is similar to the plan above, but you'll have a slightly lower annual maximum benefit and lower out-of-network benefits.
- Senior Advantage Co-Pay. With this plan, you'll know what your out-of-pocket costs will be before you see your in-network dentist. You'll get 100-percent coverage on preventive dental care when it's in-network, and you'll receive a set copayment schedule for other services.
- Senior Value Discount. This is one of the many dental discount plans available for seniors. If you choose this plan, you'll get up to 70 percent off preventive care, 60 percent off basic care, and 50 percent off the bigger dental procedures. While it's not an insured product, it has the lowest monthly fee. Services must be received in-network to get the discounts.
If you've been looking for some of the best dental insurance for seniors, here you have it. There's no excuse not to have dental coverage when you're a senior, because there are so many affordable and high-quality options for you. Don't delay! Get covered today, so you can go to the dentist and get the care you need to have strong, healthy teeth for years to come.
Contact EMI Health today to get the best senior dental plan for your situation
As seen in the previous section, EMI Health has excellent dental options for those who are seniors. We offer three senior dental plans and a discount dental program, which means we have something for your particular situation. If you're not a senior and you're looking for dental coverage, we've got you covered too. We have some of the most affordable individual dental plans Utah and Arizona have to offer. Want to learn more? Contact us today by calling 1-800-662-5851 or visiting www.emihealth.com.