Aging and Oral Health
General wear and tear, possible genetic or developed predispositions, side-effects from medications, and other similar factors all come into play for seniors oral and dental health. Changes that are connected to seniors’ mental and physical health can also create problems in their ability to perform practices of oral and dental care. Seniors with arthritis or similar issues, might find it harder to brush, floss, and care for their teeth and mouths, while challenges associated with cognitive function can also create problems.
Concerns with Oral and Dental Health
Some oral health problems impact just the specific oral area, others may play a part in more pervasive problems that influence the greater body.
- Root Decay: As gum tissue recedes and the roots of teeth become exposed, the lack of protection from enamel makes these roots vulnerable to decay from exposure to acidic foods.
- Denture-Induced Stomatitis: Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, and accumulation of the Candida albicans fungus can create inflammation of the tissues that lie beneath dentures.
- Jaw Problems: Teeth can tend to move around within the mouth to compensate for spaces or missing teeth, and these shifts can make the jawbone less even, and can cause discomfort and difficulty biting or chewing.
- Dry Mouth: Often a side-effect of medications or other treatments, reduction in the amount of saliva, which usually controls the presence of bacteria and viruses, leaves teeth more vulnerable to decay.
- Gum Disease: Gum disease can be caused by a whole bunch of different contributors, from buildup of plaque, tobacco use, poor diet, ill-fitting dentures, or other pervasive health problems. Gum disease can result in the loss of teeth, great discomfort, and other problems.
- Pneumonia: Breathing bacteria from the mouth into the lungs can lead to pneumonia, but seniors have the opportunity to reduce these chances by ensuring they keep good oral and dental hygiene to reduce the amount of bacteria living in their mouths.
- Diabetes: The high blood sugar that comes along with diabetes can result in gum infections, while severe cases of gum disease can also inhibit the body’s ability to make proper use of insulin.
- Heart Disease: A connection has been discovered between gum disease and heart disease, which indicates that maintaining good oral and dental health can help prevent heart problems such as heart attacks or strokes.
Oral and Dental Care for Seniors
Seniors and their caregivers can do things that help maintain better oral and dental health:
- Clean Dentures Daily
- Use Fluoridated Toothpaste
- Brush Twice a Day
- Visit the Dentist Regularly
- Use Mouthwash Once a Day
- Stop Smoking
- Monitor/Limit Sugary or Acidic Foods
- Floss Once a Day
Seniors should see their dentists routinely and care for their oral and dental health as attentively as possible.