What you need to know about dental care after 60
June 28, 2018
Lots of things get better with age. Unfortunately, our dental health generally isn’t one of them.
According to a recent survey by Statistics Canada, older Canadians typically have more problems with their teeth than their 20 to 39-year-old counterparts do.1 As we age, our dental health risks increase in several areas.
As we get older we enter a second round of cavity-prone years. Between 2007 and 2009, 43 per cent of those in the 60- to 79-year-old age group reported having cavities, while only six per cent of the adult group did.1
These cavities are commonly found around the roots of the teeth at the gum line.2 This is caused by our gums naturally receding and exposing the roots of the teeth—leaving them more vulnerable to decay because of the lack of enamel.
This does not pair well with the fact that cavities in older adults are often caused by a dry mouth—a common side-effect in hundreds of medications.
Be careful to remove bacteria (plaque) thoroughly each day and visit your dentist once every few months for an oral evaluation. Also let your dentist know what medications you are on so they can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.
Gum disease is another widespread issue amongst older adults because most gum disease conditions are painless until they reach the advanced stage. Between 2007 and 2009, 24 per cent of older Canadians reported moderate gum disease, compared to just 16 per cent among the adult Canadian group.1
A buildup of bacteria accumulated over time can cause the gums to become inflamed, and may eventually spread to the bone underneath. Untreated gum disease can cause the gums and the bone supporting the teeth to deteriorate, potentially resulting in tooth loss.
Regular dental visits can help to treat gum disease, or prevent it entirely. Professional cleanings can also help teeth stay as plaque-free as possible—reducing your risk for gum disease.
There are a number of reasons why we may lose tooth as we age—receding gums, teeth weakened by old silver fillings, root decay, dry mouth syndrome and more.
Depending on how many teeth you have lost, and the health of your gums and the bone underlying your teeth, your dentist may recommend a fixed bridge, a partial denture, complete dentures or dental implants. Not replacing your lost teeth puts your other teeth at risk for shifting out of place—which can contribute to more serious dental health problems down the line. Most dentures should last five to seven years with proper care, though they may need to be relined or replaced as your mouth changes with age.
Retired Teachers Insurance Plan (RTIP) offers an affordable dental care plan*, with options for single, couple and family coverage, and an effective date the 1st of any month. There is no penalty or restriction period before you can claim full benefits. Reimbursement is based on the current year’s Ontario Dental Association fee guide for general practitioners.
The only requirement is that you remain enrolled for at least 12 months after adding dental care to your plan. If you decide to cancel your dental coverage after the minimum 12-month requirement, you must wait 24 months before you can repurchase this benefit.
If you would like to know more about RTIP’s dental coverage or have any questions, visit RTIP's Dental Coverage or contact a Life and Living Benefits Representative 1-800-267-6847
*Terms and conditions of coverage apply