Dental problems can be common in people after 55 years of age, from dry mouth to periodontal disease, and since oral health directly impacts the health of the rest of the body, these issues need to be taken seriously. Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important as digestive or heart health. Here are nine reasons why dental care in +55 is so important:
Reasons Senior Dental Health Care Is Important
Research has shown that there is a connection between gum disease and heart disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene is a powerful weapon against heart attacks, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease or heart disease. Many studies found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
Poor oral health has been linked to pneumonia in older adults. By breathing in bacterial droplets from the mouth to the lungs, seniors are more susceptible to the condition; and good oral hygiene is a good way to combat this bacteria. Good oral health care is particularly important in nursing homes and in caregiving situations.
Severe gum disease, also called periodontitis, hinders the body’s ability to use insulin. High blood sugar, which is an effect of diabetes, can lead to gum infection. Good oral care in addition to regular dental checkups can help prevent this condition.
As we age, the dentin, or the bone-like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel, changes because of the beverages and foods we eat. Staining in addition to a thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the yellow dentin show through, can create darkened teeth.
Gum disease is caused by plaque and food left in our teeth, in addition to the use of tobacco products, unhealthy diets, poor fitting bridges and dentures, and diseases like anemia, cancer and diabetes. Gum disease can instigate tooth loss and can be very serious for overall health as it has been linked to many problems in the body.
Dry mouth can be a side effect of taking medications as well as cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area. Saliva keeps the mouth wet, which protects teeth from decay and prevents infection by controlling bacteria, viruses and fungi in the mouth, so having a dry mouth can pose a problem.
Caused by tooth root exposure to acids from food, root decay is very common in the elderly. As the tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth, the root doesn’t have enamel protection and makes them prone to decay.
When teeth are lost and not replaced with false teeth, the rest of the teeth have a tendency to drift and shift into open spaces creating an uneven jawbone, which in turn can create appearance and bite issues.
Caused by poor fitting dentures, bad dental hygiene or buildup of the fungus Candida albicans, this condition is an inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture. It can be quite uncomfortable for our senior loved ones.
How Age Can Affect Dental Health:
Age doesn’t always negatively affect oral health on its own.
Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Some people are also genetically predisposed to dental problems. Drugs can also affect oral health, as well as forgetting to brush or suffering from cognitive health disorders.
All of these reasons make senior dental care a priority, which is why it’s important to schedule dental checkups every six months, sometimes more, with qualified dentists and periodontists.
How to Improve Senior citizen Dental Care
We all know brushing twice a day and flossing every couple days is important for oral health. But there’s more to maintaining dental care than we know. Here are expert tips from the American Dental Association that are good guidelines to follow:
Topics Related to Oral Care Older Adults