Dental health and aging

Dental health and aging

Posted by Dr. Lee Nov 30, 2016

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Making sure your elderly loved one gets the dental care they need

It is crucial to take care of your teeth, indifferent if you are a toddler or a senior citizen. Furthermore, with age, there are a lot of health problems that require taking specific medication, which can have powerful side-effects, especially in the mouth. Teeth and gums are crucial for having a normal life because they help you eat, smile and speak. Having a poor oral health may lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Periodontal disease is one of the conditions which affect mostly elderly people. It is an infection that causes tooth loss. What is worse is that untreated periodontal disease could aggravate chronic health condition such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. That is one of the reasons why it is so important to teach children and adults to have an active role in cleaning their teeth and gums.

Challenges and solutions

Most of the seniors have lost all of their teeth, but it’s not a must to lose all of your teeth once you hit a certain age. With proper oral care, teeth can last a lifetime. But it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain adequate oral hygiene. Old age conditions, such as arthritis, make brushing and flossing difficult. For example, a solution for arthritis is the electric toothbrush, which has a larger handle.

Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is a condition that increases the risks of suffering of tooth decay. This condition is a big problem for older adults and is not something that naturally comes with age. Most of the time, dry mouth results as a side-effect of certain medication, such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’, anti-depression pills, and many others. If you or your elderly loved one suffers from dry mouth, take them to the dental office. Your dentist can determine where the problem comes from and if the culprit is medication, offer a viable alternative that doesn’t have side-effects.

Aging population may develop problems with digestion, such as gastric reflux and GERD (Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease). The acids from the stomach are able to erode the tooth structure and cause permanent tooth loss. The best way of fighting the acids in the mouth is to rinse with water regularly.

Tooth decay is another condition senior citizens have to deal with. One of the mistakes most people make in regards their teeth is that they use pain as a method of measuring health. But teeth do not hurt until is too late. It is important to take your loved one to the dentist regularly (at least twice every year) and resolve all newly appeared issues. With constant monitoring, you help maintain the oral health of your senior and ensure their wellbeing.

You can ask your dentist more information how you can help your elderly loved one and how you should brush their teeth and floss. Your dental specialist will also recommend you certain rinses and offer you certain tips and tricks for maintaining the oral health of your loved one.

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