Why is dental care for seniors so important? As we age, we become more susceptible to gum disease and other oral health problems that not only affect the condition of our mouth, but our overall health as well.
Gum disease is especially disastrous, and older adults are the most vulnerable. This disease can result in many serious conditions, including: tooth loss, heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases and diabetes. It can also affect your ability to chew and digest food properly.
And without good oral health practices, seniors also run the risk of a number of oral health problems, including:
1. Gum disease
As I’ve mentioned, gum disease is especially disastrous. Caused primarily by plaque, gum disease is made worse by food that gets left in teeth; the use of tobacco products; poor diets; certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes; and poor-fitting bridges and dentures. Not only can gum disease lead to strokes or heart disease, but if the bacteria from the plaque buildup gets into the blood stream then it can clog arteries and damage heart valves. And if it gets into the lungs, it can cause infection or aggravate existing lung conditions. Additionally, people with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease, and if contracted, gum disease can further the risk of diabetic complications.
2. Darkened teeth
Darkened teeth are caused by changes in the bone-like tissue that underlie the tooth enamel and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages.
3. Root decay
Decay-causing acids that reach the root of the tooth will cause root decay. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth, which is especially common in older adults as they continue to age.
4. Diminished sense of taste
Diseases, aging and dentures can all contribute to a loss of taste.
5. Dry mouth
Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation in the head and neck area, as well as other side effects.
6. Loss of teeth
This is primarily a result of gum disease.
7. Uneven jawbone
An uneven jawbone is an unwelcomed side effect of tooth loss.
8. Tissue inflammation with dentures
Ill-fitting dentures, buildup of fungus or poor dental hygiene can all contribute to tissue inflammation.
9. Oral cancer
A major cause of oral cancer is smoking. The tobacco reduces the blood flow to the gums. As a result, the gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy and resist bacterial infection.
Fungus in the mouth, also known as thrush, is commonly caused by diseases that affect the immune system.
So how can you be free from cavities and prevent gum disease? There are a number of ways, but they all fall into “Maintaining Good Oral Health,” such as:
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Flossing at least once a day.
- Using antibacterial mouth rinse, which will reduce the bacteria that causes plaque and gum disease.
- Visiting your dentist for cleanings and oral exams at least twice a year or as recommended by your dentist.
- No smoking. If you do, visit your dental professional regularly.
For the families who are reading this who have a loved one in an assisted living facility, please share with them the importance of having good oral hygiene. Seniors who live in a nursing home or assisted living facility are often at a higher risk for complications from poor oral health. Some of your loved ones may be too frail to take care of their teeth like they should. They are highly dependent on others to help them so in a lot of cases their oral health problems go unnoticed until there is increased pain or infection.
With all of that being said, we understand that many seniors have less access to oral and dental care services because of lower incomes or no dental insurance. Here at 1Dental, we’d like to help. Visit our website and call in to talk to a representative to find out how much you can save by getting a discount dental plan. These plans were made to save you money on your dental work. You can also find out more information about discount dental plans at How Discount Dental Plans Work.