Like many other aspects of our health, our oral health tends to experience a decline with age. Why does this occur? The most common reason why we experience a decline in our oral health is due to a decline in saliva production. Most commonly, we begin to experience more cavities as we grow older. Our saliva is one of our best natural protections against cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues. So, when our saliva production decreases, so does our oral health.
What causes a decline in saliva production?
There are several things that cause us to produce less saliva as we grow older. First, our salivary glands may start to serve other functions, like storing fatty tissue, rather than producing saliva. As a result of producing less saliva, we develop dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), and can no longer neutralize the acids that are introduced into our mouths.
Unfortunately, there are many other things that can cause xerostomia as well. These things include medications that treat HBP, heart disease, arthritis, and more. These medications are usually not optional, as they treat health issues that need medication. Additionally, if you have undergone radiation treatment in your neck or head area, you may not produce as much saliva.
Since many of the causes of dry mouth are not avoidable, you should focus on drinking more water, using hygiene products that contain fluoride, and maintaining your routine dental visits. Due to all of the changes that occur with age, it may be advantageous to visit the dentist more than twice per year. However, this is something that you and your dentist can decide at your next visit.