Learn more about diabetes and find out if you're at risk.
Tell your dentist about your medical history It’s important to let your dentist know about all your medical conditions and your medical history. Your dentist needs to know if you have been ill or in the hospital recently. Your dentist also needs to know the herbal medicines, over-the-counter products, prescriptions, doses and frequency that you are taking as well as the name of your physician. This will ensure that your dentist is able to treat you in the most safe and effective way possible.
There are some medical conditions that you may be experiencing and questions you may have as you age:
- Why do my teeth seem darker?
- Why am I losing my sense of taste?
- Why does my mouth feel dry?
- What is oral cancer?
You may notice that as you age it’s tougher to keep your teeth white. This may be true for a couple of reasons:
- Plaque builds faster and in greater amounts as we age
- Dentin (a bone-like tissue under the enamel) changes and causes your teeth to look darker
Age is a factor when you start to feel like you are losing your sense of taste. Certain diseases, medications and having dentures can all be reasons for this.
Dry mouth (technically known as Xerostomia) occurs when the saliva glands do not work properly. Saliva is vital to keep your mouth moist, wash away food and neutralize the acids that are produced by plaque. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth.
Dry mouth can make it difficult to eat, swallow, taste and even speak. It can be caused by certain medical conditions and a long list of medications. Some of the more common medications are:
- Bronchodilators (typically used for asthma)
- Decongestants (typically used for colds)
- Diuretics (typically used to increase the flow of urine)
- Muscle relaxants
- Narcotic analgesics (typically pain medications)
- Sedatives (typically known as tranquilizers)
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Anti-hypertensive medications
- Anti-depressant medications
- Anti-parkinsonian medications
Talk to your dentist about methods to restore moisture. Make sure your dentist has a complete list of all the prescriptions, herbal medicines and over-the-counter products you are taking.
Ask your dentist for more information about the interactions between your medications, medical conditions and your oral health.
Oral cancer is more common in people over 50 who smoke, chew tobacco or abuse alcohol. Early diagnosis and treatment significantly increases long-term survival.
Most early signs of oral cancer are difficult to detect without an examination by a dentist. This is one good reason to schedule regular dental examinations. Even if you do not have any natural teeth, or if you have never smoked, bi-annual oral cancer examinations by your dentist are recommended.
Any non-healing sores in the mouth or changes in voice deserve close attention. Any change in your mouth that persists beyond 14 days should be examined by your dentist.