Aging and Your Dental Health

The Link Between Medications and Cavities

You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years.

One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.

Here are some common recommendations:

  • Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
  • Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
  • Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
  • Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
  • Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
  • Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.

Visit a Dentist Regularly

Get regular dental checkups at least twice a year – pleased do not wait until you have pain. Why? As you age, the nerves inside your teeth become smaller and less sensitive. By the time you feel pain from a cavity, it may be too late and you may lose your tooth.

There are also more serious conditions that your dentist will look for, like oral cancer and gum disease, which do not always cause pain until the advanced stages of the disease. By then, it’s more difficult and costly to treat.

When you go to your dentist for a checkup bring the following information:

  • List of medications, including vitamins, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medications
  • List of medical conditions and allergies
  • Information and phone numbers of all health care providers, doctors, and your previous dentist
  • Information about your emergency contacts, someone who can help make decisions on your behalf in the case of a medical emergency
  • Your dentures or partials, even if you don’t wear them. Brought to you by the ADA American Dental Association.

Dr. Cheryl L. Malick, a Naples resident since 1985, celebrates 15 years of serving our community at Dental Excellence, her state of-the-art dental office.

Dr. Malick is an honors graduate of the University of Florida Department of Biomedical Engineering and a research honors graduate from the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

She offers general and cosmetic dentistry services, including veneers, crowns, dentures, partials, implant restorations, fillings, whitening, dental cleanings, digital impressions and xrays, and CariVu caries detection.

We are pleased to be serving the Naples area and look forward to welcoming you to Dental Excellence, located near the corner of Airport Road North and Vanderbilt Beach Road. Call us today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

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