Mouth health directly affects overall health and quality of life. Dental problems in particular are a common cause of medical and emergency visits, according to the American Dental Association.
Common medications and chronic diseases in older adults, such as diabetes or heart disease, place the elderly at an increased risk of dental problems.
Lack of physical activity, loss of memory, as well as other cognitive problems or physical disabilities can lead, unfortunately, to avoiding visits to dental offices, so to an increasingly poor dental health.
For the elderly, good dental care can help prevent common problems such as toothache, gum disease and especially tooth loss.
And especially, healthy teeth also help older adults to enjoy food and chew better.
Why is it important for dental health for seniors to be a priority?
1. Dental cavities
The plaque that is caused by bacteria damages the enamel of the teeth and cavities appear. One of the reasons why older adults have an increased risk of caries is dry mouth.
Saliva helps protect teeth and reduces bacteria, but dry mouth is a side effect of certain medications commonly taken by the elderly, such as medications for depression, asthma and high blood pressure.
2. Gum infection
Two in three elderly people over the age of 65 have gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Severe gum disease, also called periodontitis, can lead to pain, bleeding gums, chewing problems and tooth loss, among other health problems.
Unfortunately, many people do not know that they have gum diseases, since they do not cause symptoms until the disease progresses. Good dental care for seniors and regular esteemed consultations are the only ones that can help prevent gum disease.
3. Tooth loss
It is common in older adults. In fact, one in five adults aged 65 and over lost all their teeth, according to the CDC. Tooth loss can affect nutrition, since older people with missing teeth cannot eat certain fruits and vegetables. Where possible, it is recommended to replace the missing tooth with a dental crown.
4. Heart and vascular diseases
Inflammation caused by gum disease increases the risk of heart disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Gum disease can also aggravate certain heart conditions and may be associated with a higher risk of stroke.
People with poor blood sugar control are at a higher risk of dental problems, such as inflammation and gum disease. This is because too much glucose (sugar) in the saliva helps bacteria grow in the mouth. Gum disease also seems to affect blood glucose control in people with diabetes.
Older adults with poor dental hygiene, especially those who smoke, have an increased risk of bacterial pneumonia. This is because as someone breathes, bacteria in the mouth can move to the lungs.
Maintaining good dental hygiene in the elderly who can no longer care for themselves can help lower the risk of this type of pneumonia.
7. Oral cancer
The elderly have a higher risk of oral cancer. The risk is higher for people who smoke, and only regular appointments at the dentist can help to detect the problems generated by this early.
How do we improve dental health for the elderly?
Remind your loved one to brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. A soft, electric toothbrush can make dental hygiene easier. Also, dental floss helps prevent plaque and gum disease.
Schedule regular visits to the dentist – check for example our Dentist Romania directory. Regular appointments can help prevent dental problems and maintain the health of your teeth. Experts recommend attending the dentist at least once a year for a routine check-up and professional cleaning of teeth.