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Dental Health and Thrush - Affected May Need Dental Insurance for Seniors

By Susan Braden

may need dental insurance for seniors

As a person ages, their health begins to deteriorate. This includes oral health. There are many oral diseases that seniors may be more susceptible to, especially thrush. Because of this, some people may want to consider dental insurance for seniors to help prevent or treat any of these problems.

About Oral Thrush

According to Google Health, this is a yeast infection of the mucous membrane that lines the tongue and mouth. It appears as whitish, velvety lesions on the tongue and mouth that can slowly increase in number and size. Underneath these lesions is red tissue that may be very sensitive to bleeding. Though thrush is more easily developed in seniors, anyone can get it. In infants, it may be very painful, but is often not serious. Call your pediatrician if it does not go away on its own in two weeks. In adults, the condition can be cured, though the long-term outlook depends on the cause of the immune deficit and your immune status.

Causes

This condition can be caused in many different ways by a fungus called candida. Most of the time, there is a small amount of this fungus living in your mouth that is usually kept under control by your immune system and other germs. However, if your immune system is weak, the fungus can grow which may lead to developing it. You chances of getting it may be increased if you:

  • Take steroid medications
  • Have AIDS or an HIV infection
  • Are receiving chemotherapy or drugs that will suppress your immune system after an organ transplant
  • Are very old or very young
  • Are in poor health

In addition, diabetics or those with high blood sugar levels are also more susceptible to oral thrush because the extra sugar in their saliva attracts Candida. High doses or extensive use of antibiotics also increases the risk of oral thrush as antibiotics kill some of the healthy bacteria that help keep the growth of Candida under control. People with dentures that do not fit properly are also more likely to develop the condition.

Treatment and Prevention

  • Treatment in infants is often not necessary as it will usually cure on its own. Mild cases developed after taking antibiotics can be treated by eating yogurt or taking over-the-counter acidophilus capsules.
  • For diabetics, controlling your blood sugar levels may be all that is needed. Use a soft toothbrush when brushing and rinse your mouth several times a day with a diluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.
  • In severe cases, you may be prescribed antifungal mouthwash or lozenges by your doctor. Stronger medications may be used if the infection has widely spread, or if you have HIV/AIDS.

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Your doctor may suggest a regular usage of antifungal medication to avoid recurring infections if you frequently get thrush. For infants with this condition, talk to your doctor about future prevention, and sterilize or discard any pacifiers or bottle nipples. If complications occur, contact your doctor. Candida could potentially spread throughout your entire body and cause infections in your brain, eyes, joints, heart or esophagus.

Anyone with a weak immune system is at risk for thrush, especially seniors. If you think you may be susceptible to this condition, talk to your doctor. In the mean time, regular visits to the dentist and dental insurance (or discount dental plans) for seniors can help prevent the condition by keeping your mouth clean and healthy.

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